US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met with high-ranking security officials in Europe on Friday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and further steps to be taken against Russia ahead of a G7 meeting set to start this weekend.
Speaking after a four-hour-long meeting in Stuttgart, Germany attended by more than three dozen officials including 14 US Ambassadors from the region and generals who have led combat missions in the past, Carter said the US needs to do more than economic sanctions to reverse the Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
Carter acknowledged “that sanctions are working on the Russian economy,” but added “it has not yet resulted in a change, in a reversal at least of course, which is what we want out of Russia.”
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, the US and European Union have started economic sanctions on Russia, to press President Vladimir Putin to pull out of Ukraine, yet Russia defied the Western demands so far.
A cease fire agreement was signed in February to stop fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatist rebels and government forces, but clashes escalated this week claiming two dozen lives in last three days.
“There are other things we need to be doing in recognition of the fact that, at the moment at least, Vladimir Putin does not seem to be reversing course," Carter said.
Among the course of actions that Carter discussed with the officials were increasing the number of US and NATO military training exercises and investing in military capabilities in Europe.
Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Brian McKeon said one of the options is deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe, according to a Deutsche Welle report.
The leaders of the G7 - the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada - which used to be the G8 along with Russia, are to meet on June 7-8 in Bavaria, Germany with a focus on Russian activities in the eastern Ukraine.