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Obama backs interim Ukraine PM, rebukes Putin

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk arrives at the West Wing of the White House March 12, 2014 in WashingtonPresident Barack Obama told Ukraine’s Prime Minister on Wednesday that the United States would stand by his country’s defense of its sovereignty, conferring symbolic legitimacy on the Kiev government in a direct rebuke to Russia. Obama also said after meeting interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk that he hoped US diplomacy with Moscow over the next few days could cause a “rethinking” of plans for a secession referendum in Crimea on Sunday. Obama said that Russia had infringed international law with its incursion into Ukraine and warned that if President Vladimir Putin did not change course, he would face “costs” from the United States and the international community, which has already threatened economic sanctions.

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