The acting prime minister of Ukraine is meeting with President Barack Obama on Wednesday in what the White House says is a demonstration of American support for the young government in Kiev.
The meeting comes four days before the people of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula controlled for two weeks by Russian troops, vote on whether to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Western governments stressed on Wednesday that they consider the vote illegitimate.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk meets with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office at 2:45 p.m. ET. Yatsenyuk and Kerry will have a separate meeting at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Before Yatsenyuk left Kiev, the Ukrainian Parliament called for the United States and Britain to use any means, including military, to stop Russian aggression. The U.S. and Britain signed a 1994 treaty guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for Ukraine’s surrender of nuclear weapons.
Yatsenyuk speaks to the U.N. Security Council in New York on Thursday.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the so-called G-7 countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — again called on Russia to pull its troops back to their barracks in Ukraine.
Threats of sanctions and pleas for diplomacy from the West have so far failed to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse the invasion. The G-7 leaders told Russia that annexing Crimea would violate the U.N. charter.
“Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively,” the statement said, without elaborating.
Kerry said that he would meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Friday in London.
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published March 12 2014, 8:18 AM