Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly addressed Ukrainian rebels fighting government forces in the eastern part of the country, saying fighters there have achieved what he called a “major success” and urging rebels to allow government soldiers to safely leave an encircled area.
“I call on the militia groups to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian service members who have been surrounded, so as to avoid any needless loss of life,” Putin said in an address Thursday. The Russian president has come under fire from Ukrainian and U.S. officials who have accused Russia of sending combat forces into Ukraine to help rebels fight the government. President Barack Obama on Thursday warned the U.S. could pursue new sanctions against Russia.
“Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see,” Obama said. “This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia.”