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Senior U.S. Diplomat Warns Russia Not To 'Test International Community'

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin takes "the off-ramp that has been presented to him" for a peaceful resolution.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says Russia will face "much deeper political and economic isolation" if it seeks a military solution to the crisis in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

In an interview with RFE/RL on March 5, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin takes "the off-ramp that has been presented to him" for a peaceful resolution, including offers of UN mediation and international observers.

"It would be a mistake I think, for him to test the international community and to test what the effects would be on Russia in the event he pursues a military course," Power said.

Power made her comments amid mounting tensions between the West and Russia over events in Ukraine, particularly the presence of armed pro-Russian forces in the Crimean Peninsula.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Paris on March 5 with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany in talks aimed at defusing the crisis.

Her remarks also came after UN envoy Robert Serry was threatened by unidentified gunmen in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, and then ended his mission.

She criticized the incident, saying that "the pressure on President Putin is only going to mount if his forces do things like they are alleged to have done today to the UN envoy," adding that it is "not going to win the Russian cause any friends in the broader international community."

WATCH: UN envoy Robert Serry's car is surrounded by chanting protesters.
Pro-Russian Protesters Block UN Envoy's Car
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Power added that there was broad consensus in the international community on the Crimean crisis.

"I think what you heard in the UN Security Council and what you hear in the hallways of the United Nations here is broad unity across the international community in two respects," she said. "First, supporting the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and unity of Ukraine. And second, almost uniformly calling on Russia to pull back its troops and to take the de-escalatory path."

On March 2, the G7 -- an economic grouping that unlike the G8 excludes Russia -- condemned Russia's "clear violation" of the sovereignty of Ukraine, and said they would not take part in preparatory talks for the G8 summit in the Russian city of Sochi.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has also warned that Moscow risks losing its G8 seat.

And NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on March 5 that the alliance is suspending meetings with Russian officials and will review all NATO cooperation with Russia.

Power said the pressure on Russia will only grow. "I think you are going to see a growing chorus of voices calling for more stringent and targeted measures if this crisis continues and certainly if it escalates into eastern Ukraine."
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