"We are looking at it right now. We still need to take a look at this piece of legislation before we are going to articulate a specific position on it," Earnest said.
Earnest said that while the Obama administration remains concerned about Russia's actions in Ukraine, the US goal is to hold together a united front with the European Union and other countries sanctioning Russia.
The US Senate on Thursday passed legislation, "Ukraine Freedom Support Act," that will provide lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, as well as impose harsher sanctions, targeting Russia's energy, finance and defense industries. The bill still needs to pass the US House of Representatives before it would be sent to the president's desk for signature and become law.
The sanctions would be in addition to those already imposed by the United States on Russia over Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, which Russia has denied repeatedly. The European Union has implemented similar sanctions against Russia, but the proposed Senate legislation could unravel European and US joint action.
Responding to the bill on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich criticized it sharply and called the US Senate's actions "confrontational."
Russia has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the Ukrainian crisis. In fact, Russia has contributed to bringing the conflict in the ex-Soviet republic to an end, as its representatives were present at a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine in Minsk, where a ceasefire deal was reached between Kiev and independence supporters.