Obama and Putin spar as Ukraine bleeds

2014-06-04 19:17

Warsaw - President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned Russia's "dark tactics" and bullying in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin hit back at American "aggression," as new venom deepened the worst US-Russia clash in decades.

Obama met Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw and promised years of US support, then blasted Russia and vowed to protect ex-Soviet states in Nato in a hawkish speech marking 25 years of Polish democracy.

"How can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?" Obama asked, as he adopted the mantle of 'leader of the West' worn by previous presidents during the Cold War.

"As we've been reminded by Russia's aggression in Ukraine, our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share - a Europe that is whole and free and at peace," said Obama who spoke behind bullet proof glass in front of the Royal Castle in Warsaw - a rebuilt symbol of Polish triumph over the destruction and tyranny of the 20th century.

Obama will come face-to-face with Putin on Friday in France. Though several European leaders are meeting the Russian leader and hope to pursue dialogue to ease the Ukraine crisis - which saw hundreds of rebels battle government forces Wednesday - Washington remains to be convinced.

"We will not accept Russia's occupation of Crimea or its violations of Ukraine's sovereignty," Obama said, as Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in Brussels a review of "the US force presence in Europe" amid the Ukraine crisis.

"Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia," Obama said in Warsaw, hours before arriving in Belgium later Wednesday for a G7 summit dedicated to coordinating policy towards Moscow.

In a clear reference to Russia's action in Crimea and wider Ukraine, Obama warned that "the days of empires and spheres of influence are over."

"Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings."

Putin said he could not understand why Obama, who has spent months trying to isolate him over Ukraine, would not hold a formal meeting with him during 70th anniversary commemorations of the Normandy landings in World War II.

"It is his choice, I am ready for dialogue," Putin said in an interview with French broadcasters Europe1 and TF1 conducted at his dacha in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

America has troops everywhere

The Russian leader accused the United States of hypocrisy in its "aggressive" attempts to punish Russia over Ukraine.

"We have almost no military forces abroad yet look: everywhere in the world there are American military bases, American troops thousands of kilometres from their borders.

"They interfere in the interior affairs of this or that country. So it is difficult to accuse us of abuses."

Unlike Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron will meet one-on-one with Putin in France - reflecting their nations' greater exposure to Russian economic power.

Obama met Poroshenko days before his inauguration and declared himself "deeply impressed" by the chocolate tycoon Ukrainians chose on 25 May to lead them back from a political and economic precipice.

"The United States is absolutely committed to standing behind the Ukrainian people not just in the coming days, weeks, but in the coming years," Obama told reporters.

In Ukraine, three government soldiers were injured in a massive all-night attack carried out by hundreds of pro-Russian insurgents in the nation's restive east, authorities in Kiev said Wednesday.

The assault on a position held by the Ukrainian National Guard in the Lugansk region began Tuesday evening and lasted 10 hours, the interior ministry said, adding that six rebels were killed in the fighting.

The 300 rebels who took part in the attack were armed with automatic weapons, rocket launchers and mortars, and the Ukrainian forces fought "to the last bullet," according to the ministry.

Washington accuses Moscow of co-ordinating and directing the rebels, and says continued fighting should merit tough new economic sanctions.

Stand together

Nato defence ministers on Tuesday agreed a series of steps to bolster protection in eastern Europe after the Ukraine crisis, but insisted they were acting within the limits of a key post-Cold War treaty with Moscow.

Obama meanwhile proposed a one-billion-dollar fund to finance new US air, naval and troop rotations through Eastern Europe, launching his regional tour designed to bolster Nato resolve and capacity against Moscow.

Obama also took the opportunity in Poland to strikingly renew US guarantees of security for states which escaped the Warsaw pact after the eclipse of the Soviet Union and have been discomforted by Putin's action in Ukraine.

He reaffirmed that Article Five of the Nato charter would oblige the alliance to come to the defence of any state that was attacked.

"Poland will never stand alone," Obama said, to cheers from a big crowd in Warsaw's Town Square. "Estonia will never stand alone.

Latvia will never stand alone. Lithuania will never stand alone. Romania will never stand alone."

  • Raphulu Eric - 2014-06-04 19:36

    Dark tactics is: 1. The US lying about weapons in Iraq so that they can invade it 2. Invading and killing hundred of thousands in Afhganistan 3. Sponsoring Apartheid in SA 4. Supporting rebels in Syria 5. Supporting UK in removing in bombing Libya thus bringing the country to the verge of civil war and making weapons available to al-shabaab and boko haram Ect ect ect

      Bradley Kecskes - 2014-06-05 10:52

      “Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

  • Mlungu Diable Blanc - 2014-06-04 19:40

    Divide and rule,action,reaction and solution days of 9/11 false flag are 0ver!

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-06-05 02:47


  • Hosni Mubar - 2014-06-04 19:45

    Putin's days are numbered, thankfully. Russia will be free and part of the modern world.

      Honeya Badger - 2014-06-04 22:05

      As if Russia isn't a free country! Start living on planet earth mate! Putin's days are numbered, if you are the one saying or deciding it, no one has any reason to loose any sleep over! Just the ramblings of another-not-to-be-taken-seriously nutter!

      Solo Wing - 2014-06-04 22:38

      Hosni,think before you comment, it’ll save you the humiliation.

      Jasper Sterling - 2014-06-05 02:09

      The American rhetoric is certainly peppered with all manner of hypocritical ironies, that cannot be denied; but let's be honest, Putin is not exactly Nobel Peace prize material either. I'd also agree the US has no business meddling in Russia's internal affairs; but Putin threw the first punch when he started bullying his regional neighbours. He can't now come cry foul when a bigger power steps in to assist its allies who are under threat from him. Diplomatic options were explored to get Russia to back off, which were ignored. Putin has escalated things to where they are now...or do the sovereign rights of Russia supersede those of its regional neighbours. That the US may or may not have ulterior motives is neither here nor there (most likely they do, but surely that would be expected from any country taking risks to back its allies). Furthermore, as the world super power, the US has a de facto duty to act against rogue nations threatening others in the intl community, especially if those nations aren't able to defend themselves. Should they just sit idly by and allow him to annex one after another to the point where we have a World War II scenario like with hitler? If left to escalate to that level, the US itself would likely come under threat itself. Nevermind the $41tstorm the rest of the world would be in for.

      Solo Wing - 2014-06-05 07:21

      Hosni,you do have a right to your opinion,and I have a right to mine. And my opinion is that your opinion is ridiculously stupid.

  • musal - 2014-06-04 19:46

    Boko Haram beat u too?

  • Diana Gill - 2014-06-04 20:18

    American strategy: make more enemies, waste more money on security.

  • Cebolenkosi Ntobeko Ngcobo - 2014-06-04 21:30

    So big nations shouldn't bully small nations right? Isn't that what America has been doing in the Middle East and in Africa for years now? And Putin is right America has troops in almost every country, why are they there?

  • Phathutshedzo Covenant Sadiki - 2014-06-04 21:41

    Obama I'd love 2 c u n r nato allies try n bomb RUSSIA bt r afraid cos u knw russia will retaliate r use 2 bombing defenceless countries . As we speaking r forceses r bombing iraq n afgan n u claim 2 be superman

      Phathutshedzo Covenant Sadiki - 2014-06-05 07:19

      The us bomb countries in tha name of peace RUSSIA ddn't bomb ukraine in order 2 take crimea the us spy againgst every country bomb libya killed so many civilians than any atha country like how many people where bombed last 9t in iraq n afghan

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-06-05 14:53

      Phats is blind.

  • Hamish Leslie Drake - 2014-06-04 21:52

    That kind of hypocrisy can only come from a politician

  • dunkie56 - 2014-06-04 22:16

    The day will come when Russia will take the lead uniting many dissenting voices over the US aggression worldwide since 1945.As is usually the case as soon as these same voices see that some one is prepared to stand up against all that the US and it's cronies do then things will change very significantly and the US and it's cronies will find themselves pariah nations,their citizens not welcome their corporations shunned and their almighty Dollar used for toilet paper!I honestly can't say they don't deserve this...rise up OWS take back your country before it's to late!

      Solo Wing - 2014-06-04 22:33

      Russia is never as strong as it seems but never even so weak as it appears.

      Solo Wing - 2014-06-05 07:30

      Hosni,arguing with you is like playing chess with a pigeon,no matter how good you are at chess the pigeon is just going to knock over the pieces, crap on the board and strut around like it's victorious.

      Dominic Rabinowitz - 2014-06-05 08:51

      What is wrong with you Duncan? Why don't you go live in Eurasia (join the Russian army and go conquer the world) - take Diana with you - she seems rather aggressive too.

      Diana Gill - 2014-06-05 16:52

      No i am not aggressive at all, I am just another couch warrior. But can get pretty aggressive if it comes to real time conversation.

      dunkie56 - 2014-06-05 17:02

      Hey Demonic,I would go to Russia in an instant if I could but we have plans no worries cause I can't stand living in a Western democracy anymore...!Don't be surprised if many will follow where I will go cause Russia is a far better prospect than here,now and for the future,so you might find yourself left with only one option one day and that is to go and live in Israel in one of those houses being built right now on occupied Palestinain land...then you will find you will have to fight your own battles just to survive!

  • Phathutshedzo Covenant Sadiki - 2014-06-04 22:38

    Obama stop poking the big bear

  • Khwezi Shange - 2014-06-04 23:17

    Briliant speech from a briliant man!!

  • Jan Hendrik Beukes - 2014-06-05 00:32

    "Its for your security, we only want to make peace". I agree with Putin why is there so many Americans that are not in America and surprise hey all of them have automatice rifles mmm. Promoting peace and security Yo my brother Obama! Peace & security has never been made looking down the barrel of a gun. I thought the ANC was bad give that billion to building homes instead nope here's a AK-47 that will keep you warm at night now go have fun! More like:Promoting mass murder with a smile ...

  • Jan Hendrik Beukes - 2014-06-05 00:37


  • Mark Russell - 2014-06-05 03:31

    Hey Hosni, any proof supporting the USA claims? Even one shred of evidence? Anything at all? No, really? Not even one little piece for consideration to support the claims of Russian interference? So that a very telling NO!

      Solo Wing - 2014-06-05 07:34

      Mark,I don’t know what makes Hosni so dumb but it really works.

  • Maridene de Bruin - 2014-06-07 12:18

    Why do the journalists on this forum always refer to the people in East Ukraine as PRO Russian and not anti Kiev supporters? They don't want to be part of Russia they are against the Kiev thugs. Are the journalists also dancing to Obama's tune?

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