Given that Russia has been massing troops at the Ukraine border, this seems like a relatively hopeful development: Vladimir Putin called President Obama today to talk about finding a diplomatic resolution, reports the BBC. The two leaders discussed a proposal put forth by John Kerry to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov earlier in the week, and they agreed that the envoys would meet soon to try to hash out the details, reports the New York Times. No details were released. Earlier in the day, Obama called on Moscow to pull back its troops from the border, saying it was unclear whether it was an attempt at intimidation or a sign of an impending invasion.
Putin's call followed, and the Washington Post notes the competing tones in the two nations' respective statements about it. Samples from each:
- White House: “President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path in close consultation with the Government of Ukraine and in support of the Ukrainian people with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis. President Obama made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
- Kremlin: “Vladimir Putin drew Barack Obama’s attention to continued rampage of extremists who are committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents, government authorities and law enforcement agencies in various regions and in Kiev with impunity. In light of this, the President of Russia suggested examining possible steps the global community can take to help stabilize the situation."