Ukraine crisis escalates, U.S. steps in - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Ukraine crisis escalates, U.S. steps in

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Posted By: Camila Orti

The mess in Ukraine just keeps getting messier.

The southern region of Ukraine is taking steps to join Russia, despite warnings from the United States and the European Union.

Crimea's parliament has decided to let their citizens vote on whether or not to join Russian president Vladimir Putin, an act that was denounced by the EU and the U.S. as violating international law and Ukraine's constitution.

"Any decision about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine," President Barack Obama said in a news conference.

Local Ukrainian Uliana Furiv agrees.

"We are one country and he [Putin] has no right to separate us," Furiv said.

She grew up in the western part of the country, and sees Putin's invasion of Crimea as more than unnecessary.

"We see it as an aggressive attack," Furiv said.

Obama does, too. He spoke with Putin Thursday, suggesting direct talks between Russia and Ukraine, sending Russian troops home, and international assistance to monitor the situation and help with elections in May.

"I'm just very very thankful to the U.S. government in general that we are not alone in this fight," Furiv said.

An exchange student at Nebraska Wesleyan, Furiv says part of her wishes she was home, but her mother is glad she isn't.

"She said, 'I'm so glad that you're in the U.S. right now because I know you, you would travel to Kiev and would be protesting as well,'" Furiv said.

Obama has also issued travel bans on Russian officials and is threatening economic sanctions if Putin doesn't back down.

Russian leaders have already stated that Crimea would be welcomed with open arms. The Crimean Parliament has set the voting date to March 16.

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