President Barack Obama issued a strong condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of force in Ukraine in an address to the UN General Assembly on Monday, warning world leaders of “dangerous currents” that stand to threaten international stability.
“We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated,” Obama told world leaders at the 70th annual session at the United Nations.
“Imagine if instead Russia had engaged in true diplomacy and worked with Ukraine and the international community to ensure its interests were protected,” Obama said. “That would be better for Ukraine, but also better for Russia and better for the world. This is why we continue to press for this crisis to be resolved.”
Obama’s criticism of the Kremlin comes ahead of a scheduled meeting with Putin later today, where the two leaders will sit down to discuss their approaches to Syria.
In his remarks on Monday, Obama also focused his attention on Syria, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a “tyrant.”
“We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder, that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism and prevent foreign meddling,” he said. “In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children because the alternative is surely worse.”
The president’s speech pressed for international cooperation to help the United States combat rising dictatorships around the world. In appealing for peaceful negotiations, he touted the Iran nuclear deal and recent steps by the United States to ease relations with Cuba as examples of diplomacy’s triumph over the use of force.