Lawmakers: Obama not budging on giving Ukraine lethal arms

A pair of senior lawmakers on Thursday said President Obama has not changed his mind on providing lethal weapons to Ukraine’s military.

Following a White House meeting on foreign policy with Obama, several lawmakers said the administration opposes giving weapons to Ukraine despite Russia’s intervention in the country.

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“In terms of ratcheting up the type of aid, the president didn’t come out for that, no,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters after attending the bipartisan meeting.

“The belief the president expressed was that we can support the legitimate Ukrainian national forces there and they can overcome the rebellion and opposition with the current military force,” he added.

Republican Whip Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) said the meeting was an “overview” of hot spots around the globe, including, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ukraine’s defense minister on Monday submitted a list of requests for military aid to the White House. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the list, which has not been released, included items ranging from body armor and Humvees to F-16 fighter jets.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, received a classified briefing on Wednesday on the security situation in Ukraine.

Just two weeks ago a civilian jet was shot down by insurgents, according to U.S. intelligence. The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 led to new U.S. sanctions on Russia this week.

“What the president said … is not satisfactory to me, when he said ‘we're hoping for a peaceful outcome,’ ” Levin told reporters on Wednesday.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) also came away from the closed-door session convinced that the U.S. must do more.

“I think it's going to boil down over the course of the next six months that we need to supply them with the weapons so that they can protect themselves,” he said.