US open to all options in Ukraine, no decision on arms
Washington is keeping all options on the table amid the intensifying conflict in Ukraine, but it has not yet decided whether to send arms to Kiev to help battle pro-Russian rebels, a US official said Monday.
The New York Times reported late Sunday that the United States and NATO appeared to be moving towards sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian military, with top US diplomat John Kerry due in Kiev this week for talks.
His spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said: “We are constantly assessing our policies on Ukraine to ensure they are responsive, appropriate, and calibrated to achieve our objectives.”
Washington was “particularly concerned about recent escalating separatist violence and separatist attempts to expand the territory they control,” Psaki told reporters.
But she insisted: “No decisions have been made.”
“We have increased our assistance, including a range of non-lethal assistance and a range of equipment — body armor, helmets, vehicles — over the course of the last several months” to Ukraine, Psaki said.
“We continue to discuss that. We haven’t taken options off the table.”
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is open to new discussions about providing lethal aid, as is Obama’s security adviser Susan Rice, the Times said Sunday, saying the administration was “taking a fresh look at the question of military aid.”
“A comprehensive approach is warranted, and we agree that defensive equipment and weapons should be part of that discussion,” a Pentagon official told the Times.
Psaki refused to go into “internal policy discussions” but stressed Washington was taking into account “events on the ground.”
“I don’t think anybody wants to get into a proxy war with Russia. And that is not the objective. Our objective here is to change the behavior of Russia,” she added.