Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2015

Obama Not Considering Arms to Ukraine, Plans to Call Putin

McCain (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCain is one senator who called for lethal aid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators in both parties have said arms for Ukraine should be on the table as that country faces down a threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but President Barack Obama has no plans to go there.

“We’re not actively considering lethal aid,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Instead, the administration seems intent on letting the threat of much broader economic sanctions dissuade Putin from a further invasion — and Carney signaled the president would call Putin later today.

Carney, however, denied that the dispute with Russia amounted to another Cold War.

Russia is not the Soviet Union, and there is no longer a Warsaw Pact, he said.

“Russia is a regional power to be sure,” Carney added, but he declined to answer whether Russia represented a threat to the United States.

In recent weeks, several Republicans hawks led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona have called for sending arms to Ukraine among other measures.

McCain on Friday said the Obama administration “has done little to discourage Russia from further aggression and failed to provide Ukrainians with the modest military assistance that they have requested to help defend themselves,” he said.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate and an ally of the president, said on Face the Nation last month that arms should be on the table as part of a plan to bolster the country’s military.

“They do need everything from fuel to tires to sleeping bags to meals,” Durbin said then of Ukraine’s military. “We’ve got to strengthen them and help them with advice and backing. And it may come to small arms. I’m not ruling that out. Keep it on the table.”

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy also has pushed for more action from Obama.

“It is time for U.S. to operate under the assumption that #Russia has made the decision to invade Eastern Ukraine,” Murphy tweeted Monday. “Events in E Ukraine look too much like early events in Crimea for us to assume outcome will be different. Time for action.”

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