Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published June 3, 2014 at 5:41 AM | Page modified June 4, 2014 at 3:27 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Obama casts Ukraine crisis as march toward liberty

President Barack Obama held up 25 years of Polish democracy as a beacon for neighboring Ukraine in a public celebration Wednesday, warning Russia that the free world is united against its "dark tactics" to violate Ukraine's sovereignty.


Associated Press

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
The western Europeans have had universal health care for decades using the money they don't have to spend on defense.... MORE
What in the heck would we do with a greater military presence in Europe? Does anyone honestly think a military option... MORE
@jlreid900 Maybe Israel could throw out a helping hand after decades of receiving billions of dollars and military... MORE

advertising

WARSAW, Poland —

President Barack Obama held up 25 years of Polish democracy as a beacon for neighboring Ukraine in a public celebration Wednesday, warning Russia that the free world is united against its "dark tactics" to violate Ukraine's sovereignty.

"We stand together because we believe that people and nations have the right to determine their own destiny -- that includes the people of Ukraine," Obama said before a crowd that spilled into the streets before Royal Castle, a symbol of Polish independence.

"Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia," Obama said. "Because after investing so much blood and treasure to bring Europe together, we refuse to allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define the 21st."

Obama spoke just after holding his first extended meeting with Ukrainian President-Elect Petro Poroshenko, who is slated to be inaugurated Saturday. Obama praised the billionaire candy maker as a "wise selection" and said he was impressed by Poroshenko's business expertise and confident in his ability to handle Ukraine's formidable economic and political challenges.

Obama offered Poroshenko $5 million in assistance for Ukraine's military, including body armor, night vision goggles and communications equipment as it continues to suffer casualties in its confrontation with pro-Russian insurgents in the country's east. More significant than the dollar amount was the nature of the new aid. Until now, the U.S. had only provided other nonlethal forms of aid like clothes, food and radios instead of tools that will help them in their battle against the separatists.

Obama told reporters allowed into the end of their meeting at a Marriott hotel that the international community must stand with Poroshenko to make sure that Russia is no longer supporting separatists. Poroshenko thanked the U.S. for its support and said the next phase is crucial to starting a peaceful process out of Ukraine's political crisis.

Speaking from behind protective glass at Royal Castle Square, Obama declared that "the days of empires and spheres of influence are over."

"Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings," Obama said. "And the stroke of a pen can never legitimize the theft of a neighbor's land. So we will never accept Russia's occupation of Crimea or its violations of Ukraine's sovereignty."

Obama's meeting with Poroshenko came 10 days after he became Ukraine's first elected leader since its pro-Russian president fled and Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula, in the confrontation that's reignited old global divisions.

World leaders excluded Putin from a Group of 7 meeting starting Wednesday night in Brussels that was originally slated to include Putin and take place in Sochi, Russia. But in recent days, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany have scheduled face-to-face talks with the Russian leader, exposing divisions among Western nations that had united to isolate Russia over its aggressive moves against Ukraine.

Obama and Putin have spoken by phone multiple times -- but not in person -- since Russia annexed Crimea and stationed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine. Obama said Tuesday he maintains a "businesslike relationship" with Putin and is certain to encounter him in France on Friday during events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy. But they have no formal talks scheduled.

Obama announced upon his arrival in Poland on Tuesday that he's asking Congress for up to $1 billion to increase the U.S. military presence in Europe in the face of Russia's aggression. He reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Poland's security under the NATO alliance -- a message he repeated to the Polish people and that U.S. leaders have echoed across the region.

"These are not just words," Obama said. "They are unbreakable commitments backed by the strongest alliance in the world and by the armed forces of the United States of America: the most powerful military in history."

___

Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nedrapickler



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

How to tame an unruly resume


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►