As pro-Russian forces stormed a Ukrainian naval base in the breakaway region of Crimea, Vice President Joseph R. Biden warned Wednesday that Moscow would pay a price for “naked aggression.”
“We stand resolutely with our Baltic allies in support of the Ukrainian people and against Russian aggression,” Mr. Biden said as he wrapped up two days of talks in the Baltic states about the crisis. “As long as Russia proceeds along this dark path, they will receive increasing political and economic isolation.”
Mr. Biden assured the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania that the U.S. is committed to protecting its NATO allies. Both of the NATO members are former Soviet satellite states, and both have significant ethnic Russian minority populations within their borders.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the situation in Ukraine is “alarming.”
“We reject the use of brutal force to redraw the map of Europe and to undermine the post-war political order,” he said. “We must take all the necessary measures to insure security in Europe and the Baltic region.”
Latvian President Andris Berkins said the U.S. and its allies must aid Ukraine immediately, politically and economically.
As he prepared to return to Washington, Mr. Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin is confronting a world united against his Cold-War view of expansion.
“Russia cannot escape that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior, … and that there is a price to pay for naked aggression,” Mr. Biden said.
While the vice president was engaged in talks, pro-Russian forces were taking over the naval headquarters of Ukraine in the Crimean peninsula, which voted to break away from Ukraine Sunday. Mr. Putin signed a treaty on Tuesday with Crimean leaders enabling the region to join the Russian Federation.
The White House said later that Russia’s takeover of the Ukrainian naval base is “creating a dangerous situation.”
“We condemn these actions,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “We are prepared to impose further costs on Russia. “He said the administration is urging Russia to begin talks immediately with Ukraine to defuse the crisis.
The Obama administration has imposed sanctions against 11 Russian and former Ukrainian officials in response to the crisis and has warned of more sanctions to come.
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