US President Obama tells President Putin that Russia was flouting international law and risking political isolation by its military incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea region

MOSCOW: US President Barack Obama told President Vladimir Putin yesterday that Russia was flouting international law and risking political isolation by its military incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea region, as international condemnation increased.

The 90-minute telephone call between the two leaders — the kind of direct confrontation between the White House and the Kremlin rarely seen since the Cold War — came after the Russian parliament gave Putin the green light to send troops into neighbouring Ukraine.

Ukraine’s interim leaders immediately responded by both putting its army on heightened alert and voicing confidence that war will be averted because it would break the two neighbours’ historic relations for good.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation called emergency talks with its 28 ambassadors for Sunday at 1200 GMT to discuss the escalating crisis.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said Kiev had appealed to NATO ‘with a request to consider all options to defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine’, according to the Interfax news agency.