< Previous Page
Meanwhile, Obama spoke by telephone with Chinese President Xi Jinping late Sunday, trying to court China’s support for efforts to isolate Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine.
Obama appealed to Beijing’s vehement opposition to outside intervention in other nations’ domestic affairs, according to a White House statement.
The U.S. president "noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference," the statement said, adding that the two leaders "agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity."
China has been studiously neutral since the Ukraine crisis began and it remained unclear whether China would side with the U.S. and Europe or with Moscow.
The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, met on Ukraine for the fifth time in 10 days to hear closed-door briefings from U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman and Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev. The council has been unable to take any action because Russia has veto power.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said the goal was to "send a message to the Russians. ... ‘No referendum, you have to respect the Ukrainian constitution and negotiate.’"
In Kiev, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the businessman and Putin critic who was once Russia’s most famous prisoner, said Monday his country is ruining its longstanding friendship with Ukraine.
"The question of Crimea’s fate is very painful both for Ukrainians and for Russians. It’s not just a simple territorial dispute for some extra square kilometers," Khodorkovsky told a packed hall at Kiev Polytechnic University.
"For Russians, it’s a sacred place, an important element in our historical memory and the most painful wound since the Soviet collapse," Khodorkovsky said. Nevertheless, he said, the symbolism of Crimea for Russians cannot justify "such a blatant incursion into the affairs of a historically friendly state."
He called for Crimea to remain part of Ukraine, but with broader regional powers and the protection of the rights of Russian speakers there.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s wealthiest man, was pardoned last December by Putin. Many believe he was convicted of tax violations and other crimes and sent to prison on trumped-up charges.
On Sunday, Khodorkovsky almost wept as he urged a large crowd in Kiev’s center not to believe that all Russians support their government’s actions in Crimea.
Heintz reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Lara Jakes, Matthew Lee and Julie Pace in Washington, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.