White House to host Ukraine leader

Lesley Clark

President Barack Obama will host Ukraine’s new Prime Minister at the White House on March 12 as the standoff over Russian troops in Ukraine’s Crimean region continues to intensify.

The White House says Arseniy Yatsenyuk‘s visit will “highlight the strong support of the United States for the people of Ukraine, who have demonstrated inspiring courage and resilience through recent times of crisis.”

The visit is aimed at bolstering the new government, said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

“We're making it clear to the new government of Ukraine that we support them,” Carney said. “That we support the responsible way in which Ukrainian officials in parliament and the new government have handled this crisis; and that we are working to provide direct assistance to Ukraine in this difficult time, so that they can stabilize their economy and return to economic growth.”

He said the visit will “reinforce the fact that the United States believes that the Ukrainian government has responsibly filled the vacuum left by the sudden hasty and voluntary departure by President Yanukovych.”

He noted the White House is working with Congress to provide assistance to the Ukrainian government that would complement an IMF package of assistance.

And he said it continues to work “aggressively” on the diplomatic front to resolve the crisis.

Obama and Yatsenyuk will discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said.

They will also discuss international support to help Ukraine’s economy and the “importance of uniting Ukraine and working to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people as they prepare for May presidential elections.”

A recent poll shows nearly Americans giving Obama better grades for his handling of the crisis in Ukraine than the rest of his job performance. The CNN/ORC International poll shows Americans by a 48 percent to 43 percent margin, approve of Obama’s handling of the standoff with Russia.

His overall rating, however, stands at 43 percent, down 2 percentage points from a month ago.

The survey also shows that imposing economic sanctions on Russia appears to be the only option that a majority of Americans support for the U.S. to try to end the crisis in Ukraine. Nearly 6 in 10 questioned say they support economic sanctions against Moscow.

Military solutions were particularly unpopular: 76 percent opposed sending weapons and other military supplies to the Ukrainian government; 82 percent opposed U.S. military action against Russian troops in Ukraine involving air strikes but no ground troops; and 88 percent opposed sending U.S. ground troops to Ukraine.

By Lesley Clark
McClatchy Washington Bureau