Obama, Ukraine's PM warn Russia as Crimea heads for referendum

13 March 2014 10:12

President Obama Wednesday met Ukraine’s Primier Arseniy Atsenyuk and warned Moscow there will be consequences if it doesn't remove its troops from Crimea and Kiev said that it will "never surrender", CNN reports.

Obama derided Sunday’s vote in Crimea as a “slap-dash referendum” and warned that if it occurs, the international community “will be forced to apply a cost to Russia’s violation of international law and its encorachments on Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said he can only hold back Russian aggression with U.S. support.

"What's at stake today? The future of my country and the freedom of my people," he said after meeting Obama in the Oval Office. "It's all about freedom. And we want to be very clear: We will never surrender."

Yatsenyuk also noted, he wants to be good friends with Russia.

"We will continue to say to the Russian government that if it continues on the path that is on, then not only us but the international community ... will be forced to apply a cost to Russia's violations of international law," Obama told reporters. "There is another path available, and we hope that (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin is willing seize that path."

"We fight for our sovereignty, and we will never surrender," he said. Later he added that he wanted to be clear that Ukraine "is and will be a part of the Western world" but still a "good friend and partner of Russia."

Photo: AFP