President Obama told the U.N. that he cannot stand by as Russia commits further aggression in eastern Ukraine, such as the shelling that destroyed this apartment in the Donetsk region. (© AP Images)

Fidelity to international rules requires the U.S. to respond to Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine, said President Obama.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 28, Obama said that while he recognizes the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine, the United States cannot stand by while Russia flagrantly violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today,” Obama said. “That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners impose on Russia. It’s not a desire to return to a Cold War.” In Russia, because of sanctions imposed by the United States and the international community, the economy is suffering from capital flight, a fallen ruble and the emigration of well-educated citizens.

President Obama speaks during the 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 28. (© AP Images)

Had Russia engaged in true diplomacy and worked with Ukraine and the international community to ensure its interests were protected, Obama explained, that would have been better — not only for Ukraine, but for Russia and the rest of the world.

Obama said this is why the United States will continue to press for a solution to the crisis that allows Ukraine, as a sovereign and democratic country, to determine its own future and control its territory.

“Not because we want to isolate Russia — we don’t — but because we want a strong Russia that’s invested in working with us to strengthen the international system as a whole,” Obama said.

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