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Obama Urges Putin to Consider Diplomatic Options in Ukraine

<p>President Obama on Thursday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the diplomatic options available to end the crisis in Ukraine.</p>

President Barack Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider diplomatic options to end the conflict in Ukraine during an hour-long phone call Thursday, the White House said.

Obama told Putin that Russian troops incursion into Crimea is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and that the United States and its European allies have “taken several steps in response,” according to a readout of the call. Some of those actions include sanctions and U.S. visa bans on officials deemed responsible for the conflict.

The president also reviewed with Putin diplomatic solutions to end the standoff, centered on talks between leaders of Ukraine and Russia overseen by international monitors.

Earlier on Thursday, Obama called for a “path to de-escalation” following a proposed referendum that would allow Crimea to join the Russian Federation.

He is the full White House readout of the call:

President Obama spoke for an hour this afternoon with President Putin of Russia. President Obama emphasized that Russia's actions are in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response, in coordination with our European partners. President Obama indicated that there is a way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which addresses the interests of Russia, the people of Ukraine, and the international community. As a part of that resolution, the governments of Ukraine and Russia would hold direct talks, facilitated by the international community; international monitors could ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; Russian forces would return to their bases; and the international community would work together to support the Ukrainian people as they prepare for elections in May. President Obama indicated that Secretary Kerry would continue discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the government of Ukraine, and other international partners in the days to come to advance those objectives.