- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A day before a key meeting that may represent the last true hope to end the fighting in Ukraine through diplomacy, President Obama on Tuesday called Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and expressed optimism that a settlement can be reached.

Mr. Obama is weighing whether to provide the Ukrainian military with lethal arms to help even the odds in the fight against pro-Russian rebels. But the president won’t make a final decision until Mr. Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in Belarus on Wednesday.

The German and French leaders have said diplomacy must be given another chance before the U.S. takes additional steps, such as sending arms to Ukraine.

In his call with Mr. Putin, the president urged the Russian leader to embrace diplomacy and call off the pro-Russian fighters still wreaking havoc in eastern Ukraine.

“President Obama reiterated America’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. President Obama underscored the rising human toll of the fighting and underscored the importance of President Putin seizing the opportunity presented by the ongoing discussions between Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine to reach a peaceful resolution,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

The president also warned Mr. Putin that Moscow will face additional costs if it does not change course.


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