The top NATO commander says any move to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons must take into account any possible angry reaction from Russia.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove says any action the U.S. or other Western nations take "could trigger a more strident reaction from Russia."

His remarks come amid signals that the U.S. is considering giving Ukraine defensive weapons to help protect forces along the border from escalating assault by Russian-backed separatists. He and other U.S. leaders insist there is no military solution to the conflict, but say that Ukraine has the right to defend itself.

But other NATO allies are expressing unease and even outright opposition to any move to provide weapons to the Ukrainians.

Breedlove spoke to reporters at a meeting of NATO defense ministers.