President Barack Obama blamed Russia for the escalation of fighting in eastern Ukraine and said that the U.S. and its European allies are discussing additional steps to pressure the government in Moscow.
Obama ruled out confronting Russia militarily over Ukraine, saying that sanctions already imposed by the U.S. and European Union are having an impact.
“A military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming,” Obama said today at the White House.
Obama, who is meeting with other leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization next week, said Russia has trained, armed and funded the separatist in Ukraine and repeatedly violated its neighbor’s territorial integrity.
“My expectation is that we will take additional steps” with European partners to punish Russia, he said.
Ukraine, which isn’t a NATO member, has accused Russia of sending troops and military hardware across the border and taking part in the battle with separatists against government forces in the country’s east. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the Russian actions a “de facto” Russian incursion. The Russian government has denied involvement.
Obama said he will meet with Poroshenko next month at the White House.
The escalation of fighting has prompted calls by the European Union to threaten Russian President Vladimir Putin with further sanctions, even as the bloc’s governments -- along with the U.S. -- stop short of calling events an “invasion.”