President Obama said Sunday that administration officials are “deeply concerned” about the latest break in a ceasefire in Ukraine.
“We will continue to … ratchet up the pressure on Russia,” he said during comments in New Delhi with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Obama said the U.S. is looking at all options, “short of military confrontation.”
NATO said Saturday that fighting in eastern Ukraine has “sharply escalated,” with indications of a large-scale offensive by Russian-backed separatists.
This is in utter disregard of the ceasefire,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.
“What I’ve said consistently is that we have no interest in seeing Russia weakened or it’s economy in shambles,” Obama said on Sunday. “We have a profound interest … in promoting a core principle, which is large countries don’t bully small countries.”
“What we have done is to consistently isolate Russia on this issue and raise the costs that Russia confronts.”
“I’ve been very clear that it would not be effective to engage in a military conflict with Russia on this issue,” Obama added.
Obama said the U.S. can support Ukraine with what it needs to sustain its economy “during this transition period” and help its military with “basic equipment.”
Obama said U.S. officials are in close consultation with European partners to make sure they stay in “lock step” with the administration.
“If Mr. Putin and Russia are hell bent on engaging in military conflicts, their military is more powerful than Ukraine’s,” Obama said.
“The question is: Are we able to continue to raise the costs as we create an off-ramp diplomatically?” he asked.