Obama: Ukraine can be a friend of the West, Russia

A Russian flag waves on a tent set by anti-Yanukovych protesters in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. Russia's parliament granted President Vladimir Putin permission to use the country's military in Ukraine and also recommended Saturday that Moscow's ambassador be recalled from Washington over comments made by President Barack Obama. The unanimous vote in an emergency session formalized what Ukrainian officials described as an invasion of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. With pro-Russian protests breaking out in other parts of Ukraine, Moscow now could send its military elsewhere in Ukraine.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A Russian flag waves on a tent set by anti-Yanukovych protesters in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. Russia's parliament granted President Vladimir Putin permission to use the country's military in Ukraine and also recommended Saturday that Moscow's ambassador be recalled from Washington over comments made by President Barack Obama. The unanimous vote in an emergency session formalized what Ukrainian officials described as an invasion of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. With pro-Russian protests breaking out in other parts of Ukraine, Moscow now could send its military elsewhere in Ukraine.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine could end up driving countries away from Russia, instead of closer to it.

He says there is room for Ukraine to be a friend of both the West and of Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent Russia forces into the Crimean region of Ukraine, saying he needs to protect Russian interests there.

Obama also says Putin must be guided by a different set of lawyers making different determinations about his actions. Obama says there is a strong belief around the world that Russia’s actions are violating international law and that force shouldn’t be used to exert influence inside Ukraine.

Obama commented Tuesday in Washington after discussing highlights of the $3.9 trillion government budget he’s sending to Congress.

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