US considering arming Ukraine with lethal weapons: Barack Obama
The US is examining the possibility of arming Ukraine with "lethal defensive weapons" President Barack Obama said today but insisted that no decision in this regard had been made yet.
Washington: The US is examining the possibility of arming Ukraine with "lethal defensive weapons" President Barack Obama said today but insisted that no decision in this regard had been made yet.
"It is true that if, in fact, diplomacy fails, what I've asked my team to do is to look at all options. What other means can we put in place to change (Russian President) Mr (Vladimir) Putin's calculus? The possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that's being examined," Obama said at a White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"But I have not made a decision about that yet. I've consulted with not just Angela but will be consulting with other allies about this issue. It's not based on the idea that Ukraine could defeat a Russian army that was determined," he said in response to a question.
"It is rather to see whether or not there are additional things we can do to help Ukraine bolster its defences in the face of separatist aggression. But I want to emphasise that a decision has not yet been made," Obama said.
Obama said the US, Germany and their other international partners are continuing to push for diplomatic solutions.
"Russia obviously has an extraordinarily powerful military and you know, given the length of the Russian border with Ukraine, given the history between Russia and Ukraine, expecting that if Russia is determined that Ukraine can fully rebuff a Russian army, has always been unlikely," he said.
"But what we have said is that the international community, working together, can ratchet up the costs for the violation of the core principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that's exactly what we've done. Russia has paid a significant cost for its actions first in Crimea, and now in Eastern Ukraine. It has not yet dissuaded Mr Putin from following the course that he is on," he said.
"But it has created a measurable negative impact on the Russian economy. And that will continue. My hope is that through these diplomatic efforts, those costs have become high enough that Mr Putin's preferred option is for a diplomatic resolution," he said.
"I won't prejudge whether or not they'll be successful. If they are successful, it will be in part because of the extraordinary patience and effort of Chancellor Merkel and her team. If they are not, then we will continue to raise those costs. And we will not relent in that," said the US president.
Speaking in German, Merkel said she and the French president have decided to make one further attempt to make progress through diplomatic means.
"We have the Minsk agreement. The Minsk agreement has never been implemented, quite the contrary is true. The situation has actually worsened on the ground," she said.
"But if, at a certain point in time, one has to say that a success is not possible, even if one puts every effort into it, then the United States and Europe have to sit together and try and explore further possibilities, what one can do," Merkel said.