WASHINGTON, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations on Sunday denounced what they called Russia's "clear violation" of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In a joint statement released by the White House, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, along with the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, also announced their suspension of preparations for the upcoming Group of Eight (G8) summit in the Russian resort city of Sochi.
They urged Russia to address any ongoing security or human-rights concerns it has with Ukraine through "direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe."
"We stand ready to assist with these efforts," they said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Barack Obama over phone on Saturday that Russia retains the right to protect its interests and Russian speakers living in Ukraine if violence spreads in eastern Ukrainian regions and Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine now at the center of the country's ongoing crisis.
A senior U.S. official told reporters via teleconference on Sunday that the Russian forces were now "in complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula," where armed personnel had taken over airports and parliament and government buildings.
Another senior U.S. official said Russia has moved 6,000 airborne and ground troops into the Crimean peninsula, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.
"We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility, and to decrease the tensions," the G7 leaders said.
Alleging that Russia's actions in Ukraine contravene the "principles and values" guiding the G7 and G8, the leaders announced their decision to suspend preparations for the scheduled G8 summit in Sochi in June.
"We are united in supporting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own future," they said, adding that "We commit ourselves to support Ukraine in its efforts to restore unity, stability, and political and economic health to the country."
In a recent conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Putin said Russia could not stay aside if violent actions were taken against Russian-speakers in eastern Ukrainian regions and Crimea.
Russia would take necessary measures according to international law, Putin added. But both sides agreed that further escalation of the crisis in Ukraine should be averted.
Cameron, Obama agree on "urgent need" for de-escalation: spokesperson
LONDON, March. 2 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron and American President Barack Obama on Sunday "agreed on the urgent need for de-escalation and for Russia to engage in a dialogue directly with Ukraine" in a phone call, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement.
"They agreed that Russia's actions were completely unacceptable," the spokesperson said, adding that the two leaders spoke over phone at 9:00 p.m. Sunday. Full story
Pentagon chief calls for diplomatic approach on "dangerous situation" in Ukraine
WASHINGTON, March 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Sunday called for a diplomatic approach to resolve what he described as a "dangerous situation" in Ukraine.
The Pentagon chief emphasized that diplomacy would be the appropriate path to support Ukraine, which he called a sovereign, independent nation. Full story
Obama, European leaders urges dialogue between Russia, Ukraine
WASHINGTON, March 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S., British, Polish and German leaders on Sunday expressed "grave concern" over what they called Russia's "clear violation" of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, calling for an immediate dialogue between the two neighbors, the White House said.
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the situation in Ukraine in separate phone talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Full story
Merkel accuses Russia of violating international law
BERLIN, March 2 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia broke international law with its intervention in Crimea, a deputy spokesman of German government said.
Merkel said in a phone call with Putin that Russia has violated the international law with the "unacceptable Russian intervention" in Crimea, deputy spokesman Georg Streiter said in a statement. Full story
NATO condemns "military escalation" in Crimea, urging peaceful resolution
BRUSSELS, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The NATO on Sunday condemned Russia's "military escalation" in Crimea of southern Ukraine and expressed "grave concern" regarding the authorization by the Russian Parliament to use armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.
"Military action against Ukraine by forces of the Russian Federation is a breach of international law and contravenes the principles of the NATO-Russia Council and the Partnership for Peace," the NATO said in a statement. Full story
NATO chief accuses Russia of threatening Europe's security
BRUSSELS, March 2 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday accused Russia of "threatening peace and security in Europe."
"What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter. It threatens peace and security in Europe. Russia must stop its military activities and its threats," said Rasmussen before the meetings of the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels.Full story