March 6 - Speaking in the White House briefing room, President Barack Obama said any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the ''legitimate'' government of Ukraine. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Crimea's parliament votes to join Russia Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum on the decision in 10 days' time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula. U.S. President Barack Obama says such a move would violate international law. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING: "The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law. And discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders." He said there is a better path forward. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING: "Let international monitors into all of Ukraine including Crimean, to insure the rights of all Ukrainian are being respected, including ethnic Russians. " He also called on Congress to move beyond words. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING: "One last point, there has been a lot of talk in Congress about these issues. Today once again, I am calling on Congress to follow up on these words with actions specifically to support the IMF's capacity to lend resources to Ukraine and to provide American assistance to the Ukrainian government." The Crimea vote, which diplomats said could not have been made without Putin's approval, raises the stakes in the most serious east-west confrontation since the end of the Cold War.