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Barack Obama: U.S. Will Not Tolerate 'Brazen Assault' on Ukraine

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Barack Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. would not tolerate the Russian-backed "brazen assault" in Ukraine, saying that "borders cannot be redrawn with the barrel of a gun." In a speech in Estonian capital, Tallinn, ahead of this week's NATO summit in Wales, the president said he "would not accept Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea or any part of Ukraine."

Obama said that Russia had repeatedly rejected the option to resolve the dispute without incurring sanctions. "It doesn't have to be this way," he said, adding that Putin had become a "bad bet" for investors because of the measures. "Reaching back to the days of the Tsars, trying to reclaim lands lost in the 19th century is surely not the way to secure Russia’s greatness in the 21st century."

The president also reiterated his commitment to Washington's NATO allies. "The door to NATO membership will remain open," he said, in a nod to non-members, including Ukraine. "Article 5 is crystal clear — an attack on one is an attack on all," he added, talking about member states' treaty obligations of mutual protection. "If in such a moment you ever come to ask again, 'Who will come to help?' You'll know the answer: The NATO alliance including the armed forces of the United States."

"We will be here for Estonia, we will be here for Latvia, we will be here for Lithuania," he told his audience. "You lost your independence once before. You’ll never lose it again." Earlier, there were conflicting statements from both sides in the Ukraine conflict, with Kiev at one point saying it had reached a "permanent cease-fire," something denied by Moscow.

IN-DEPTH

- Alexander Smith