End aggression or face fallout, Obama tells Putin
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has warned Russia not to continue its "aggressive actions" in Ukraine as the repercussions will increase.
The White House said Mr Obama reiterated US support for Ukraine's sovereignty in a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and emphasised the importance of reaching a diplomatic resolution.
"However, if Russia continues its aggressive actions in Ukraine, including by sending troops, weapons, and financing to support the separatists, the costs for Russia will rise," the White House said in a statement.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee this week called for €750m in lethal defensive aid to Ukraine as Congress increased pressure on Mr Obama to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian-backed rebels.
Republican Mac Thornberry, the panel's chairman, and Democrat Adam Smith of Washington state introduced legislation that would provide training, equipment and lethal defensive weapons to the national security forces of Ukraine through to September 30, 2017 to help secure "its sovereign territory against foreign aggressors."
"It seems Russia has decided to go back to the Cold War," Mr Smith said at a news conference, citing Russia's takeover of Crimea and push into eastern Ukraine. The imposition of economic sanctions "has not at all changed President (Vladimir) Putin's calculus."
Mr Thornberry, who joined senators at a defence conference in Munich over the weekend, said: "There's a huge amount of bipartisan support to allow the Ukrainians to defend themselves."
Mr Obama is considering sending lethal aid to Ukraine's military. The president spoke on Tuesday with the leaders of both Russia and Ukraine, one day before they meet for talks aimed at reaching an elusive peace deal. The president also discussed yesterday's ceasefire talks in Minsk, Belarus, with Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian president. The bipartisan legislation - and the show of unity by the two senior politicians - underscores the growing demand in Congress from both Republicans and Democrats for aggressive action by the US.
Last week, Republicans and Democrats called on the administration to provide lethal defensive weapons as well as provide additional non-lethal assistance, including counter-battery radars and unmanned aerial vehicles.