The United States is giving its tacit support to Ukrainian military action against pro-Russian separatists.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says such action isn't the preferred option, but that the Ukrainian government has to respond to what he says is an untenable situation.

In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, the government said special forces on Tuesday recaptured a small airport that had been occupied by militiamen. Ukraine's acting president had earlier announced an "anti-terrorist operation" against insurgents who have seized control of numerous buildings in the country's east.

Carney says the Ukrainian government has to respond because of its responsibility to maintain law and order.

The U.S. continues to support economic and diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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