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Pentagon nominee leans toward arming Ukraine

Speaking to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at his confirmation hearing, President Barack Obama’s pick to run the Pentagon, Ashton Carter, says he’s inclined to back increased US assistance to Ukraine, including lethal arms, to fight anti-government rebels backed by neighboring Russia.

The White House is reconsidering its opposition to giving Ukraine defensive weapons and other lethal aid to help its struggling military repel the insurgents backed by Moscow. That would be a possible escalation that has been strongly supported by many members of Obama’s national security team, but it also would risk turning Ukraine into a proxy war with Russia.

Ashton Carter, left, President Barack Obama's choice to head the Defense Department, left, and former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, sit on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, prior to Carter testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to replace Chuck Hagel.  (photo credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Ashton Carter, left, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Defense Department, left, and former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, sit on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, prior to Carter testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to replace Chuck Hagel. (photo credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Carter also says that Russia’s military moves in Ukraine are “a clear violation” of a 1994 commitment that Russia made to respect the sovereignty of the newly independent Ukraine as part of Ukraine’s agreement to give up the nuclear weapons it inherited from the former Soviet Union.

Nominated to be the fourth Pentagon chief of an Obama administration now in its 7th year, Carter faced questions about Iraq, Afghanistan, the Islamic State, the Guantanamo Bay military prison, Russia and other hot spots during his Senate appearance. His confirmation is widely expected, yet members of the committee used the heavily attended hearing to challenge and criticize Obama’s foreign policy decisions.

— AP

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