According to White House Officials, US President Barack Obama has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to move Russian troops in Ukraine`s Crimea region back to their bases and set up a monitoring mission there. Moscow currently remains in de facto control of the strategic region and Washington describes this as an act of aggression by the Russians.
This move revolves around Russia`s military deployment in Crimea and warnings that it could move into eastern Ukraine to give protection to Russians and Russian speakers. A recent change of government in Ukraine that Putin calls an `unconstitutional coup` ended with the overthrow of Russian ally, President Viktor Yanukovych, after months of pro-Western street protests. An alternative that Obama discussed with President Putin calls for sending a group of international monitors to Ukraine to provide protection for ethnic Russian people in the region in exchange for the return of the Russian troops in Crimea back to their bases in the Black Sea peninsula. So far, Putin has not responded to any suggestions and all contacts with the Ukrainian capital of Kiev aimed at resolving the conflict have been refused.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov agreed to a meeting in London on March 14th to discuss this matter. "President Obama has asked me to leave tomorrow evening and fly to London to meet with Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday and I will do that," Kerry said to the House Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations. "Our job is to present them with a series of options that are appropriate in order to try to respect the people of Ukraine, international law, and the interests of all concerned."
People in Ukraine and the West have speculated that Russia seeks to take control of the region by force. Kerry paid a recent visit to Kiev and said that there was no indication that Russian citizens were in any danger after the uprising. "It is clear that Russia has been working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further," Kerry said. Meanwhile, Putin himself denies the allegations, saying that the troops were not Russian, but instead pro-Russian local self-defense forces that wanted to protect the bases from harm. There have also been shows of support in Crimea and eastern Ukraine for Russian intervention.
Ukraine`s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said he would not take military action against Russia and is seeking help from the United States against Russia, stating that his country`s army would be heavily outnumbered against Russian forces with more advanced weapons technology, including nuclear weapons, and thousands of additional troops to come if called. "We cannot launch a military operation in Crimea, as we would expose the eastern border and Ukraine would not be protected," Turchynov said. They`re provoking us to have a pretext to intervene on the Ukrainian mainland. We cannot follow the scenario written by the Kremlin."
Meanwhile, reports from the Russian defense ministry say that they have recently tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. According to them, a Topol RS-12M missile was successfully launched from Russia`s Kapustin Yar test range near the Caspian Sea to the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan.
White House spokesman Jim Carney stated that while they support Ukraine and its people, they are still hoping to negotiate with Russia to solve the conflict without resorting to violence and allowing Ukraine to hold onto its territorial integrity.
Sources: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26442381, http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-john-kerry-says-to-meet-russia-s-sergei-lavrov-in-london-on-ukraine-1968831, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10692122/Ukraine-says-will-not-fight-Russia-over-Crimea.html