In the face of the most damning evidence to date that Russian troops and equipment have invaded Ukraine, President Barack Obama on Thursday stuck to previous statements that there is no military solution to the ongoing crisis there.
“We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem,” Obama said from the White House Thursday. “What we’re doing is [mobilizing] the international community to apply pressure on Russia. But I think it is very important to recognize that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming.”
Early Thursday, NATO officials said Russia had sent more than 1,000 troops into Ukraine to join separatists fighting Ukrainian armed forces. NATO also released satellite imagery showing the movement of Russian artillery, vehicles and troops in and around Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.“If reports prove accurate that Putin has in fact sent over 1,000 troops into Ukraine to support and fight alongside Russian-backed separatists, this is an act of war against the sovereign state of Ukraine,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio. “The President needs to definitively state whether or not Russia has invaded Ukraine and immediately condemn this overt escalation of an already serious conflict.”
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., also released a heated statement Thursday on the crisis in Eastern Europe. “Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine can only be called one thing: a cross-border military invasion,” the senators said.
Even a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisory council on human rights, Ella Polyankova, referred to Thursday’s action as an invasion. “When masses of people, under commanders’ orders, on tanks, [armored personnel carriers] and with the use of heavy weapons, [are] on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion,” she told Reuters.
But Obama avoided using the word “invasion” on Thursday, preferring the less-confrontational categorization of Russian actions as a violation of Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“I just spoke with Chancellor Merkel of Germany on the situation in Ukraine,” Obama said. “We agree, if there was ever any doubt, that Russia is responsible for the violence in Eastern Ukraine … As a result of the actions Russia has already taken and the major sanctions we’ve imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War.”