The Pentagon chief says Washington needs to find new ways to address the conflict in Ukraine, citing the failure of economic sanctions against Russia.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made remarks on Friday while talking to reporters aboard Carter’s E-4B aircraft en route to the US after attending a four-hour conference with top US diplomats and military brass in Stuttgart, Germany.
He said sanctions aren’t enough to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to back down in Ukraine.
He added that despite battering the Russian economy, US-led sanctions could not alter Putin’s stance on Ukraine.
“What’s clear is that sanctions are working on the Russian economy,” Carter said.
“What’s not apparent is that that effect on his economy is deterring Putin from following the course that was evidenced last year in the Crimea,” he added.
The Pentagon chief went on to say that the US must launch its training of local troops and joint military exercises in more European countries to deter Moscow.
The United States and Russia have been at loggerheads over the political situation in Ukraine after US-backed forces ousted the country’s elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
Washington also accuses Moscow of orchestrating an “illegitimate referendum to annex Crimea" and fuelling unrest in eastern Ukraine.
But Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and criticized the government in Kiev for the crackdown on the pro-Russia protesters in eastern Ukraine.
The US and European countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow over what they call Russia’s involvement in Ukraine's conflict.
Washington accuses Moscow of arming and supporting pro-Russian forces fighting in the predominantly Russian-speaking areas in eastern Ukraine. Moscow calls the accusations "groundless".
Former Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul says US sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis are an act of war, adding that the American people are tired of US-imposed wars.