Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will meet with President Obama in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Crimea and possible peaceful solutions for the Eastern European country.
“The visit will highlight the strong support of the United States for the people of Ukraine, who have demonstrated inspiring courage and resilience through recent times of crisis,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Sunday. “They will also discuss support the international community can provide to help Ukraine confront its economic challenges, and the importance of uniting Ukraine and working to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people as they prepare for May presidential elections.”
The vice president will cut short his trip to Latin America so he can attend Wednesday’s meeting.
Russian troops surrounded the eleventh base on Sunday at the Ukranian Black Sea border station where about 30 personnel were trapped inside. Since forces first moved into the region 11 days ago, the Russian government has threatened to suspend international inspections of nuclear weapons. Violent rallies erupted on Sunday in Sevastopol, where pro-Russian activists attacked a group of Ukranians. And hundreds more gathered in nearby Simferopol to demonstrate their support of the upcoming referendum on March 16 that will decide if residents become Russian citizens or remain within Ukraine under enhanced autonomy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday admitted to strongly disapproving Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned Moscow-backed referendum because the action would violate Ukraine’s constitution.
Putin spoke separately on Sunday with Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, where they each exchanged opinions about the possible international efforts to settle the crisis, and discussed the organization of the upcoming referendum.
President Obama spoke by telephone with various leaders of European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, during the weekend in his ongoing attempt to gain support of protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine. He welcomed the unified stance the United States and European Union took against Russia’s military intervention.
Last week, Obama declared the White House will diplomatically target individuals working against the new government in Ukraine. He condemned Russian officials for voting to welcome the Ukranian peninsula back into the Russian Federation, citing his concern that such action would violate the sovereign country’s constitution and international law. He shared a telephone conversation with Putin last Thursday to emphasize the sovereignty of Ukraine.
Several Republicans continue to believe Putin is taking advantage of Obama’s flaws. Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday said there is “no question” the Russian leader thinks Obama is weak. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz held a similar notion, adding that he believes Obama “alienates” allies and “coddles” enemies. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin criticized Obama during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday for his passive threats against the Russian leader. Others have blamed the crisis on the failure of the Obama administration to avenge the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.
“When the protests began in Ukraine, the president should have stood unapologetically, empathetically for freedom,” Cruz said on ABC News’ This Week. “When the United States doesn’t speak for freedom, tyrants notice.”