State Dept. not ready to call Russian military moves an ‘invasion’

The Obama administration is not deeming new Russian troop movements in southeastern Ukraine an “invasion” despite warnings from Kiev and NATO that military forces had crossed the border.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki sidestepped questions about whether a full-scale invasion had occurred Thursday, calling it “a discussion about terminology.”

{mosads}”It doesn’t change what kind of support we are providing, what kind of discussions are happening within the administration,” Psaki said in an interview with MSNBC.

“What we’ve seen here is an escalation of aggression by the Russians. A pattern, actually, over the last several months, that’s what we’re concerned about and that’s what we’re watching closely,” she added.

Earlier Thursday, the government in Kiev deemed the Russian troop movements an invasion and announced that President Petro Poroshenko had cancelled a plan visit to Turkey so he could address the situation on the border.

“What we registered is a direct invasion of the Russian military into the eastern regions of Ukraine,” said Ihor Prokopchuk, Ukraine’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, according to NBC News.

More than 1,000 Russian troops have entered the country and two columns of tanks and military vehicles have crossed the border, Ukranian and NATO officials told The Associated Press. Russia has also reportedly fired missiles from across the border to clear way for the convoy. Reports also said Russian forces had taken control of a key Ukrainian town.

NATO on Thursday also tweeted a picture it said showed Russian “combat troops” in Ukraine.

Psaki warned that the U.S. and other world powers were considering even more drastic sanctions against Moscow and had “a range of tools at our disposal” to respond to the aggression.

“There are still sanctions we could do,” Psaki said, adding that the situation would be “a prominent part of our agenda” at the NATO summit next week in Wales. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will both be in attendance.

The U.N. Security Council is also expected to convene for an emergency meeting on the situation Thursday afternoon, although that panel will be handcuffed by Russia’s veto power.

Tags Jen Psaki NATO Russia Ukraine
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