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Obama demands West stand firm against 'brute force'

Published on Mar 27, 2014 4:38 AM

BRUSSELS (AFP) - US President Barack Obama urged the West on Wednesday to stand firm in opposing Moscow's takeover of Crimea, saying that "with time" Russians will realise "brute force" cannot win.

Winding up a daylong visit that kicked off with a moving tour through the only Belgian World War I cemetery to hold US graves, Mr Obama said "we must never forget that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom." He told a crowd of some 2,000 people massed in a concert hall alongside Belgian's king and queen that Russia's actions had challenged "truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident".

The Kremlin's incursion into Crimea had violated the beliefs that international law matters, that borders cannot be redrawn, that people must decide their own future, Mr Obama said before departing Brussels for Rome where he will meet Pope Francis.

In his only speech in a six-day tour of Europe, the US president said though the West was not directly affected by Russia's actions, "indifference would ignore the lessons that are written in the cemeteries of this continent".

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