POLITICS: PennAve

Obama, European leaders discuss 'alarming situation' in Ukraine

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Foreign Policy,Europe,Ukraine

President Obama held a call with European leaders on Friday to discuss the "alarming situation" in eastern Ukraine and the group urged Russia to "choose a peaceful resolution" to the crisis there.

Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the White House said, taking time to address the standoff in Ukraine during his week-long trip to Asia.

“The President noted that the United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia's latest actions,” the White House said in a statement. “The leaders agreed to work closely together, and through the G7 and European Union, to coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia.

“The leaders underscored that Russia could still choose a peaceful resolution to the crisis, including by implementing the Geneva accord,” the statement continued.

The leaders praised the “positive steps that Ukraine had taken to move forward” in accordance with the April 17 deal in Geneva between the U.S., European Union, Ukraine and Russia.

Under that agreement, the Kremlin pledged to urge pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to hand over their weapons and leave government buildings they have seized. Russia also pledged to begin talks with the interim government in Kiev on placing international observers in the country, while Ukraine agreed to offer an amnesty to the Russian separatists.

But Moscow has since balked on its commitments leading the U.S. to threaten further sanctions if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not take concrete steps to defuse the situation. Pro-Russian forces say they are not bound by the agreement and Ukraine is resuming military operations to reclaim seized territory.

“The leaders also agreed that Russia had not reciprocated – including by not publicly supporting the Geneva accord, nor calling on armed militant groups to lay down their arms and leave the government buildings they’ve occupied – and had in fact continued to escalate the situation through its increasingly concerning rhetoric and threatening military exercises on Ukraine’s border,” said the White House.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the world was "ready to act" against Russia and warned that "the window to change course is closing."

The White House has said the next round of sanctions have been prepared and are ready to take effect if Russia fails to act.

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