published Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Obama tamps down prospect of strikes in Syria; blames Russia for Ukraine violence

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama played down the prospect of imminent U.S. military action in Syria on Thursday, saying "we don't have a strategy yet" for degrading the violent militant group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East.

Obama said confronting the Islamic State militants requires a regional strategy with support from other states in the region. He said it's time for states in the region to "stop being ambivalent" about the aims of extremist groups like the Islamic State.

"They have no ideology beyond violence and chaos," Obama said.

The U.S. is already striking Islamic State targets in Iraq, and officials have said the president is considering similar action in neighboring Syria. The militants have moved with ease between the two countries, effectively blurring the border.

Russia responsible for Ukraine violence

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is blaming Russia for the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine.

Obama is speaking at the White House amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West. He says Russia is training, arming and funding pro-Russian separatists in Russia. Obama says new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain to see.

Obama says 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 U.S. and Ukraine.

Obama says he spoke by phone Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He says 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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