Obama National Security Aides Meet to Discuss Ukraine
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - President Barack Obama's national security team discussed the Ukraine crisis in a session at the White House after a last-ditch bid to find a diplomatic solution to the Cold War-style standoff with Russia floundered.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who just returned from talks with his Russian counterpart in London, was at the White House meeting along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Obama did not attend the meeting but was being briefed about it and other developments involving Ukraine, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Reuters reported.
Crimea's pro-Russia parliament has scheduled a referendum on Sunday to decide whether the region should be annexed by Russia, an ominous development that Obama and his national security team have been trying to head off to no avail.
Obama said on Friday he still hopes a diplomatic solution can be found but that the United States and Europe are prepared to impose "consequences" on Russia if it does not loosen its grip on Crimea.
White House deliberations took on a new urgency as Ukraine's military scrambled aircraft and paratroops to confront Russian troops landing on a remote spit of land between Crimea and the mainland.
The Russian move prompted some members of the US Congress to express alarm.