WASHINGTON, March 10 -- U.S. President Barack Obama spoke separately with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the Ukrainian situation, the White House said Monday.
Obama and Rajoy agreed on the need for direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said in a statement.
The leaders rejected the proposed referendum in Crimea as "a violation of Ukraine's constitution" and underscored that all decisions about the future of Ukraine must include the government in Kiev, the statement said.
Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic, is scheduled to hold a referendum on its future status on Sunday. Russia has said it would respect the "historic" decision Crimean people would take, while most of Western countries are questioning the legitimacy of the vote.
In his telephone conversation with Nazarbayev, Obama encouraged Kazakhstan to play an "active" role in finding a peaceful outcome for Ukraine, according to a separate statement issued by the White House.
Obama and Nazarbayev also affirmed their shared interest in identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine, the statement said.
Moscow and Washington have remained far apart over the festering crisis in Ukraine, accusing each other of imposing will on the country, which sits at the strategically important juncture between Russia and Europe.
Central to their divergence is the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government, which Russia branded as a coup while the United States and its allies hailed as a victory of democracy.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow was not satisfied with U.S. proposals on settling the Ukrainian political crisis, and has drafted its own document to "put the situation on the basis of international law."
The solution Washington proposed involved direct talks between the governments of Ukraine and Russia; the deployment of international monitors to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; the return of Russian forces to their bases in Crimea; and international support for presidential elections in Ukraine in May.
Lavrov said the proposals contained "a concept which does not quite agree with us because everything was stated in terms of allegedly having a conflict between Russia and Ukraine and in terms of accepting the fait accompli."