The US is examining the option of supplying “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine if a peace deal is not reached to end the crisis in the east of the country, Barack Obama has said.
In a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the US President blamed Russia for the continued conflict in eastern Ukraine and said that sending weapons to Ukraine was one option, but reaffirmed his commitment to finding a diplomatic solution.
The comments come ahead of four-way peace talks in Minsk, and amid renewed fighting between the pro-Russia rebels and the Ukrainian military for control of the area around the town of Debaltseve.
Meanwhile, EU ministers agreed to postpone imposing further sanctions against Russia in a bid to give the peace talks a better chance of success.
Obama has come under growing pressure from US officials to supply arms to Ukraine in order to help it maintain its borders from an increasingly aggressive Russia that is attempting to reassert its dominance over eastern Europe.
Russia denies ending troops into Ukraine or supplying the rebels with heavy artillery and other arms despite the continued stream of photographs and videos showing Russian troops and convoys of Russian military equipment within the area.
More than 5,300 people have been killed in the continued fighting, with over 1.5 million displaced from their homes.