140307064620-01-ukraine-0307-horizontal-galleryHostilities intensified in Crimea on Saturday as Ukrainian officials accused pro-Russian forces of armed aggression and President Barack Obama rounded up world leaders to demand Russia “de-escalate the situation.” Obama called British, French and Italian leaders and hosted a conference call with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the White House said. “All of the leaders agreed on the need for Russia to pull its military forces back to their bases, allow for the deployment of international observers and human rights monitors to the Crimean peninsula, and agree quickly on the formation of a contact group that could lead to direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a White House statement said.
They also rejected a proposed referendum in Crimea on whether it should rejoin Russia “as a violation of Ukraine’s constitution,” the White House said. MORE