Obama says the US will stand firm with its allies to address the conflict in Ukraine, where the US says Russia is backing pro-Russian separatists. But Obama says a military confrontation between the US and Russia in the region, quote, “is not in the cards.”
But Obama is pointing to the Nato alliance as a deterrent for Russia. He says although Ukraine isn’t part of Nato, other nearby nations are. He says the US takes its commitment to defend Nato allies “very seriously.”
Obama will attend a Nato summit in Wales next week.
Obama spoke amid an escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine and fresh signs of Russia’s involvement. A top UN official told the Security Council yesterday that further violence marks a dangerous escalation, but there is no way of verifying the latest reports of a Russian invasion,
In an emergency session on the growing crisis, members expressed outrage, with US ambassador Samantha Power saying Russia “has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied.”
The emergency Security Council meeting came hours after a top Ukrainian official said two columns of Russian tanks and military vehicles fired missiles from Russia at a Ukraine border post, then rolled into the country.
That opened a new front in the war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russia separatists and the new government of President Petro Poroshenko.
Statements from Nato, Mr Poroshenko, the separatists, the US and the president of the Security Council left no doubt that Russia had invaded Ukraine.
A top Nato official said at least 1,000 Russian troops have entered Ukraine with sophisticated equipment and have been in direct “contact” with Ukrainian soldiers, resulting in casualties.
The new south-eastern front raised fears that the separatists are seeking to create a land link between Russia and Crimea, which Russia annexed in March.
Ms Power reminded the council that the meeting was “the 24th session to try to rein in Russia’s aggressive acts in the Ukraine”.
“Every single one has sent a straightforward, unified message: ‘Russia, stop this conflict’. Russia is not listening,” she said, adding that Russia’s force along the border is the largest it has been since it started deploying in late May.