Obama: 'Russia Is Responsible For The Violence In Eastern Ukraine'

Obama: 'Russia Is Responsible For The Violence In Eastern Ukraine'

President Barack Obama made a statement Thursday on the situation in Ukraine, saying he spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and that the two agree "Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine."

"The new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see," Obama said.

Obama said he would meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko next month at the White House.

Obama is meeting with his national security team Thursday afternoon to discuss the threat of the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, in Syria and Iraq. During the press conference, Obama announced he has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to the region. He also said it was too early to go to Congress over the matter, but said he will eventually "consult with Congress and make sure their voices will be heard."

"I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama said. "We don't have a strategy yet."

Responding to criticism from several Republican senators about the lack of a strategy against the Islamic State, White House officials noted later on Thursday that the president addressed the matter in his opening remarks.

Obama said that "military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL." That course of action needs to include strong regional partners and an effective Iraqi government, he added.

Later in the briefing, Obama said that action would be taken "as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy."

Obama said targeted airstrikes are continuing in Iraq and said the Islamic State is "losing arms and equipment" because of the airstrikes. He said the airstrikes are part of an effort "to protect American personnel on the ground in Iraq."

"Clearly ISIL has come to represent the very worst elements in the regions that we have to deal with collectively," Obama said while taking questions Thursday, referring to the Islamic State.

This story has been updated with further comments from Obama and White House press spokesman Josh Earnest.

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Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine

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