Policy: National Security

White House cautions Russia over war games near Ukraine

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Politics,White House,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Foreign Policy,Ukraine

The White House on Wednesday urged Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and end “provocative rhetoric and actions” amid reports Moscow is ordering military exercises near the two countries' border.

“We urge outside actors in the region to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, end provocative rhetoric and actions, support democratically established transitional governing structures, and use their influence in support of unity, peace, and an inclusive path forward,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

“We remind all governments of their political commitments to transparency about military activities under the Vienna Document 2011 and other OSCE obligations designed to insure security and peace in the Euro-Atlantic region,” he added.

Reports on Wednesday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s military forces to conduct a test of “battle readiness.” The exercises come after an uprising in Ukraine saw former President Viktor Yanukovych removed from power and a caretaker government installed ahead of new democratic elections.

Yanukovych was forced from power after months of protests by opposition groups critical of his decision to block a European Union trade deal in favor of closer ties with Russia.

But international observers fear Russia may seek to undermine the transitional government and reassert influence over Kiev. Ukraine is split between pro-Russian residents in the eastern half of the country and groups that back closer ties with the EU in the west.

The White House previously sought to downplay tensions with Russia over Ukraine, with President Obama saying he did not view the crisis as a “some Cold War chessboard.”

Asked if Moscow was being sufficiently transparent over the military exercises, Earnest said only that the administration was “aware of the reports” on Russian movements.

He called on “all the parties in the region, the Ukrainian government as well as Russia” to live up to their international obligations.

“The United States stands with the Ukrainian people at this remarkable moment and we will do all we can to help build the strong, sovereign and democratic country they so richly deserve,” said Earnest.

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