WATCH: As pro-Russia leaders in Crimea prepare for Sunday’s referendum on whether to become a part of Russia, Ukraine accuses Russia of a military build-up along their shared border – something Moscow denies. Mike Armstrong reports from Kyiv.
- Obama warns of consequences if Russian aggression towards Ukraine continues
- Ukraine’s security council chief accuses Russia of massive military buildup near Ukraine’s border
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says that if Russia continues an aggressive path in Ukraine, the United States and other countries will, in his words, be “forced to apply costs” to Moscow.
Obama made his remarks after meeting with Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at the White House in a display of support for the fledgling government.
Obama referred to the Russian military presence in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and said the greatest threat facing Ukraine is to its territorial integrity.
Yatsenyuk said Ukraine will, quote, “never surrender” in a fight over its territory.
Ukraine accuses Russia of major military buildup by border
Ukraine’s security council chief has accused Russia of a massive military buildup near Ukraine’s border that raises the threat of an invasion.
Andriy Parubiy, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, told Wednesday’s briefing in Kyiv that Russia has deployed more than 80,000 troops close to the border, creating the “threat of a full-scale invasion from various directions.”
In Moscow, Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov denied a military buildup on the Russia-Ukraine border. He also said Moscow has accepted a request that Ukraine made Tuesday to conduct a surveillance flight over the Russian territory to make sure there is no threat.
Russian forces have secured control over Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is ready to “use all means” to protect Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.
John Kerry: United States will “do what it has to do” if Russia won’t back down on issue of Crimea
New Ukraine prime minister to brief U.N. Security Council
Diplomats say Ukraine’s new prime minister will brief the U.N. Security Council at an open meeting Thursday.
The diplomats said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will travel to New York from Washington to address the U.N.’s most powerful body. They spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.
Yatsenyuk was in Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House.
READ MORE: Obama to meet with Ukrainian PM
Yatsenyuk is expected to reiterate that Sunday’s referendum on whether Ukraine’s Crimea region should become part of Russia is illegal.
Russia has become increasingly isolated in the Security Council, with even close ally China reaffirming Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But Moscow can still block any council action using its veto power.
WATCH: OSCE team visits military facilities in eastern Ukraine