Skip to main content

Obama: 'There will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine'

By Ralph Ellis,CNN
updated 10:25 PM EST, Fri February 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama says "we are now deeply concerned" by reports of military movements inside Ukraine
  • Obama said Ukraine's fate must be determined by its people
  • The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations calls for international mediation
  • NEW: Senate Foreign Relations Committee members back U.S. assistance in Ukraine

(CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama didn't speak very long at the White House on Friday, but his message was clear: Russia should not use military force to change the fate of Ukraine.

"The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine," Obama said.

The president made his remarks as events moved quickly in Ukraine, with troops believed to be from Russia moving into Crimea, the southern section of Ukraine that favors close ties with neighboring Russia. Other parts of Ukraine and the new government leaders want to align with Europe.

"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine," Obama said. "Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

"It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people."

What 'costs' could Russia face?
Ukraine's strategic importance

He said Ukraine must be autonomous.

"Throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future," he said.

Just before Obama spoke, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called for an "urgent international" mediation mission to Crimea.

Also, a bipartisan group of 12 senators from the Foreign Relations Committee expressed support for U.S. assistance in Ukraine and warned of Russian intervention.

"We do not seek confrontation with President Putin and his government, but simply to ensure that Russia abides by its commitments and adheres to core principles of international law. A peaceful, democratic, stable, and sovereign Ukraine is in our national interest," the senators wrote in a letter to Obama.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Friday to "reaffirm the United States' strong support for the new government and our commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democratic future of Ukraine," a statement from the vice president's office said.

The State Department warned U.S. citizens Friday night to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine, particularly to the Crimean Peninsula, citing instability.

Read Obama's full statement

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
updated 8:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
It's been building for months. And now, according to some, Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine.
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Western leaders stepped up sanctions, but the Russian President shows no sign of backing down.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 4:37 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Information about Ukraine, the second-largest European country in area after Russia.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT