President Barack Obama on Thursday dismissed any suggestion of military intervention to address Russia's further incursion into Ukrainian territory, as Republican lawmakers renewed calls for stronger action.
"We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we're doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia," Obama said. "But I think it is very important to recognize that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming."
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned of a "dark and dangerous" future if Russia and President Vladimir Putin are not confronted about the action in Ukraine.
"Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine can only be called one thing: a cross-border military invasion. To claim it is anything other than that is to inhabit President Putin’s Orwellian universe," Graham and McCain said in their latest joint statement.
"This is a moment to speak and act with clarity. A sovereign nation in the heart of Europe is being invaded by its larger neighbor. This runs completely contrary to the civilized world that America and our partners have sought to build since World War II," the senators said. "If we will not or cannot defend our own values now, as well as friends who share them, the future will be dark and dangerous indeed, not just for Ukraine but for us too."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is generally like-minded with Graham and McCain on foreign policy, issued her own statement also calling for additional action against Russia.
"Moscow’s invasion and major escalation in Ukraine demands a strong and immediate response. I call on the President to immediately impose tougher sanctions against Russia and provide the Ukrainian government the weapons they need and have long requested to defend Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the New Hampshire Republican said.
"Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but a number of those states that are close by are. And we take our Article 5 commitments to defend each other very seriously, and that includes the smallest NATO member, as well as the largest NATO member," Obama said. "And so part of the reason I think this NATO meeting is going to be so important is to refocus attention on the critical function that NATO plays to make sure that every country is contributing in order to deliver on the promise of our Article 5 assurances. Part of the reason I'll be going to Estonia is to let the Estonians know that we mean what we say with respect to our treaty obligations."
Before Obama's remarks, House Armed Services Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon of California and fellow GOP Rep. Michael R. Turner called for him "to definitively state whether or not Russia has invaded Ukraine."
"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," the House members said.