NATO's top general wants 'all tools' used to help Ukraine

MUNICH (Reuters) - NATO's top military commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, said on Friday the West should be ready to use "all tools in the tool bag" to help Ukraine fight pro-Russian separatists, though he did not specify if that should include arming Kiev. The New York Times reported this week that Breedlove was among a number of U.S. officials who now favor providing defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine's military, which is struggling to hold back the rebels in eastern Ukraine. NATO, Washington and other Western powers say there is overwhelming proof Russian President Vladimir Putin is arming the insurgents and sending his own troops over the border - allegations dismissed by the Kremlin. But differences have emerged between Europe and Washington on how to confront the Russian leader. Breedlove told the Munich Security Conference the debate was between those who believe there is no military solution -- such as Germany, France and Britain -- and those who believe "Mr Putin is prosecuting the military solution to the issue in Ukraine". The West has tried using diplomatic and economic measures to put pressure on Putin, the general told the annual conference of foreign and security policy officials and experts. "But if what is being done is not producing what you want to gain from the conversation, then maybe all tools in the toolbag should be used and conventional means should not be outwardly discounted," he said, without giving further specifics. (Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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