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US welcomes Putin call to revoke authorization to use force in Ukraine

The White House on Tuesday welcomed President Vladimir Putin’s call to Russian lawmakers to revoke his authorization to invade Ukraine.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest however said that Washington, which has threatened further sanctions on Moscow, wanted to see clear evidence of a change in Russian behavior.

“We do … welcome any Russian steps to end the crisis in Ukraine, including President Putin’s request to the Duma to revoke a resolution authorizing the use of Russian military forces in Ukraine,” said Earnest.

“We also welcome the separatists’ acceptance of the cease-fire and call on them to abide by it, and we certainly are supportive of any comments from President Putin about the value of a cease-fire agreement.”

“That said, in the coming days … it’s actions, not just words, that will be critical,” he added.

Putin earlier asked the Duma to revoke a March 1 resolution allowing him to invade Ukraine.

The surprise reversal comes amid the threat of tougher Western sanctions against Moscow and could help spur fragile peace initiatives to end fighting in eastern Ukraine after pro-Russian rebels agreed Monday to a temporary government ceasefire.