"We may be able to de-escalate over the next several days and weeks, but it's a serious situation and we're spending a lot of time on it," Obama said at a Democratic Party dinner in Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington on Tuesday. (Agencies)
Giving details of the situation, Obama said, "The essence of it is, we have a country that has been in a difficult situation for quite some time, that had a president that was closely associated with the Russians, who a large segment of the Ukrainian population did not feel was representing them well, although he had been democratically elected".
“The crisis in Ukraine is a consequence of the Ukrainian President's decision not to sign an agreement that would have oriented their economy a little more towards the West,” he said.
"That got out of control and we got involved only to prevent initially bloodshed occurring inside the country and succeeded in doing that," he added.
"But, ultimately, a deal that was brokered for a power-sharing arrangement in an election led to him fleeing and we now have a situation in which the Russians, I think are engaging in a fundamental breach of international law in sending troops into the country to try to force the hands of the Ukrainian people," Obama said.
Meanwhile, the state department said the Ukrainian government is taking steps towards the election.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Kiev on Tuesday, said that the new government has taken steps to move the ball forward.
"They're taking steps towards an election. They're taking steps to be inclusive. They're taking steps to de-escalate. Those are all positive things. The fact that he's on the ground should be the indication you need about how closely we're working with the new government," state department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at her daily news conference.
"The fact is that Russian military forces have taken over Ukrainian border posts. It's a fact that Russia has surrounded or taken over practically all of the Ukrainian military facilities in Crimea. It's a fact that yesterday Russian jets entered Ukrainian airspace. I could certainly go on from there. But that is our view of what was conveyed," she said.
"We may be able to de-escalate over the next several days and weeks, but it's a serious situation and we're spending a lot of time on it," Obama said at a Democratic Party dinner in Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington on Tuesday.