Obama Says Russia’s Ukraine Aggression Challenges OrderDaryna Krasnolutska and Roger Runningen
President Barack Obama told the United Nations that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine recalls the days when “large nations trampled small ones” and challenges the international order established after World War II.
Ukraine urged pro-Russian separatists to stop shelling government troops and start withdrawing their heavy weapons, in line with an agreement reached for eastern Ukraine. Rebels bombarded government-held Donetsk airport and a checkpoint in the area, wounding eight servicemen, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kiev yesterday.
Obama, in a speech to the 69th General Assembly of the UN, said the U.S. and its allies will continue supporting Ukraine while offering Russian President Vladimir Putin a way out of the conflict. Obama said diplomacy and peace would end economic sanctions against Moscow.
“Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition,” the U.S. president said. He said World War II was able to “roll back the forces of fascism, the notions of racial supremacy and form this United Nations to ensure that no nation can subjugate its neighbors and claim their territory.”
“Recently, Russia’s actions in Ukraine challenge this post-war order,” Obama said.
Russia denies U.S. and European Union allegations that it’s stoking the unrest in eastern Ukraine, where a cease-fire went into effect earlier this month.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, responded to Obama by telling reporters in New York that the U.S. can’t dictate terms for a Ukraine peace. He said Russia is ready for equal dialogue with the U.S. and again rejected accusations of aggression in Ukraine.
“What is happening in Ukraine isn’t the Americans’ problem,” Lavrov said. “It’s the problem of the Ukrainians themselves.”
NATO said Sept. 23 that Russia has embarked on a “significant” withdrawal of its forces from Ukraine, adding to signs that the truce is holding between the government in Kiev and separatist groups.
The conflict, which erupted after Russia annexed Crimea in March, has killed more than 3,200 people, according to UN estimates, while severely straining Ukraine’s economy.
Ukraine’s government pledged to meet all its debt obligations, stemming a bond selloff triggered by warnings from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and BNP Paribas SA that the war-torn country may overhaul its debt.
“We are not considering restructuring at all,” Halyna Pakhachuk, the head of the Finance Ministry’s debt department in Kiev, said in response to e-mailed questions from Bloomberg News yesterday. “We will be able to make all payments.”
The EU and the U.S. have imposed sanctions targeting Russian individuals, companies and the nation’s finance, energy and defense industries.
Russian stocks rose for a second day yesterday, led by financial shares amid speculation sanctions against the country may be eased.
The Micex Index climbed 0.9 percent to 1,441.83 by the close in Moscow. OAO Sberbank, the nation’s biggest lender under U.S. and EU penalties, increased 1.8 percent as financial stocks rallied 1.5 percent on average.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed to the cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels on Sept. 5 and granted them powers to govern the areas they control. Two weeks later, the sides agreed to create a 30-kilometer (18 mile) demilitarized zone.
When the rebels “start to withdraw their heavy weapons, Ukrainian government troops will also start the weapons withdrawal,” Lysenko said. “We have already prepared an area for relocation” of equipment.