Obama reconsidering Ukraine help
President Barack Obama is reconsidering whether to send lethal assistance to Ukraine, a senior administration official has said.
But the president continues to have concerns about the effectiveness of that step and the risks of a proxy war between the US and Russia.
The official said President Obama is specifically concerned about the besieged Ukrainian military's capacity for using high-powered, American-supplied weaponry.
The president has also argued that no amount of arming the Ukrainians would put them on par with Russia's military prowess.
The US accuses Russia of supplying the pro-Kremlin separatists that are stirring instability in eastern Ukraine. The US has limited its supplies to the Ukrainian military to non-lethal aid, such as gas masks and radar technology to detect incoming fire.
Some administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Nato Commander Gen Philip Breedlove, have been pressing President Obama for months to expand that assistance to include defensive aid to help Ukraine's military hold positions and prevent more incursions by Russian-backed separatists.
While the White House has weighed this option previously, President Obama has stuck with his opposition to lethal aid. However, the official said an uptick in violence in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks has spurred the president to take a fresh look at supplying Ukraine with lethal aid, along with other options for calming tensions.
A US military official said defensive lethal aid could include anti-tank missiles, such as the Javelin weapon system, along with armoured vehicles. Other options could involve foreign military sales, training or other aid. The US and Europe could also ratchet up economic sanctions against Russia.