Obama warns against Russian action in Ukraine
U.S. defense official said Russia sent ‘several hundred’ troops into Ukraine
U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday expressed concern about reported Russian military movement inside crisis-torn Ukraine and warned of consequences.
“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” he told reporters at the White House, according to Reuters.
“Any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” he said in a brief appearance. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
U.S. defense officials said Friday that Russia has sent “several hundred” troops into Ukraine's Crimea region, after Kiev called on Moscow to withdraw its forces from the peninsula.
“It looks like they've moved several hundred troops there (into Crimea),” a defense official told AFP, adding the Russians had given the U.S. government no advance notice of the action.
The comments marked the first confirmation from President Barack Obama's administration that Russia had launched an incursion into Crimea.
The Russians had not given the U.S. government advance notice of the action or explained its intentions since the operation was launched, officials said.
But Pentagon officials stressed Washington was focused on diplomacy, and there was no serious consideration being given to any U.S. military action.
“It is now in the realm of diplomacy,” said a second defense official, who asked not to be named.
Officials also said they were not aware of any request from Ukraine for military assistance.
Ukraine's defense ministry, meanwhile, said it had information that unknown “radical forces” were planning to try to disarm its military units in Crimea early Saturday morning and warned against such action.
“In the case of such unknown actions, the Ukrainian armed forces will act in accordance with the laws of Ukraine and the regulations of the Ukrainian armed forces,” the ministry said in a statement on its Website.
[With AFP and Reuters]