Obama and Putin at a meeting on Syria last June, photo: AP

Here’s how President Obama opened his three-minute speech on the crisis in Ukraine, late on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of this year’s frigid February in Washington:

Over the last several days, the United States has been responding to events as they unfold in the Ukraine. Now, throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future. Together with our European allies, we have urged an end to the violence and encouraged Ukrainians to pursue a course in which they have stabilized their country, forge a broad-based...

 
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