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US won’t take military action in Ukraine, Obama says

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama blamed Russia for the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine, but said the US will not take “military action to solve the Ukrainian problem.”

Obama said the US will stand firm with its allies to address the conflict in Ukraine, where the US says Russia is backing pro-Russian separatists. But Obama said a military confrontation between the US and Russia in the region‘‘is not in the cards.’’

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Obama pointed to the NATO alliance as a deterrent for Russia. He said that although Ukraine isn’t part of NATO, other nearby nations are. He said the US takes its commitment to defend NATO allies ‘‘very seriously.’’ Obama will attend a NATO summit in Wales next week.

Obama also said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will visit the White House next month. It’s Poroshenko’s first visit since becoming president and a major display of unity between the US and Ukraine.

Obama said he spoke by phone Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and that Russia’s incursion into Ukraine will bring additional consequences.

Ukrainian officials say two Russian military columns have rolled into the southeastern part of Ukraine after missiles were fired at a border post.

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