Obama threatens new sanctions against Russia
Iran Press TV
US President Barack Obama has once again threatened new sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, saying he would 'ratchet up' pressure on Moscow.
Obama made the comments on Sunday at a news conference in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after pro-Russian forces allegedly launched a rocket attack on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
The president said the US was "deeply concerned" about the latest break in a ceasefire agreement known as the Minsk Protocol, signed in September between Kiev and pro-Russian forces.
'We will continue to take the approach that we have taken in the past, which is to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, and I will look at all additional options that are available to us short of military confrontation and try to address this issue,' the president said.
Obama alleged that the pro-Russian forces were emboldened by "Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops.'
Despite the strong rhetoric from the US, it was unclear whether the European Union was prepared to follow suit. European capitals are divided over whether to pursue more sanctions against Moscow, according to EU diplomats.
Russia blames Kiev for surging tensions
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Ukraine's army was at fault for the uptick in violence and accused it of using civilians as 'cannon fodder' in the conflict.
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also blamed the administration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for escalating tensions in the country's east, insisting that Kiev is in violation of the Minsk agreement.
Ties between Washington and Moscow deteriorated last year after pro-Western forces ousted Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
The US and its allies accuse Moscow of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian forces. Moscow, however, denies any involvement.
The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes.
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