The White House indicated last night that punitive measures are being weighed against Russia for its continuing push into Ukraine.
The Obama administration vowed to heap pressure on the Kremlin after its February seizure of the Crimea peninsula, but Russian actions have continued undeterred.
President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke by phone Sunday “to discuss the situations in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as the status of the P5+1 talks with Iran taking place in Vienna,” according to a readout from the White House.
“On Ukraine, the President and Prime Minister expressed concern about the increasing tensions and ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine and agreed upon the need for Russia to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation. These steps have already been clearly conveyed to Russia and include the need to enforce a bilateral ceasefire to be observed by the Russian-supported separatists, an immediate halt to the flow of Russian weapons and fighters across the border, the establishment of an effective OSCE border-monitoring mechanism, a roadmap for Contact Group talks, and the release of all hostages,” the White House said.
“So far, neither the United States nor the United Kingdom have seen progress on complying with these conditions. The President and Prime Minister agreed Europe and the United States should take further coordinated measures to impose costs on Russia if it does not take immediate steps toward de-escalation.”
A statement from 10 Downing Street said Cameron will push their Russia objectives Wednesday at the European Council.
“Both leaders agreed that Russia still needed to take several steps towards de-escalation, including support for a ceasefire; the release of all hostages; preventing the transit of weapons and fighters across the border; support for an OSCE monitoring mission on the border and engaging in a roadmap for talks that could lead to a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” said the prime minister’s office. “In the absence of such efforts, then the US and EU must be willing to impose further costs on Russia, as agreed at the G7 summit and the last European Council.”
Russia yesterday accused Ukraine of firing a shell over the border, killing one man in a border town.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been meeting directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to tamp down the crisis.
The Kremlin said a Sunday meeting in Rio de Janeiro, where both leaders attended the World Cup final, “was lengthy and proved to be detailed and constructive.”
“Mr Putin and Ms Merkel agreed at the meeting that the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating, and noted the necessity for the urgent resumption of work of a contact group, possibly in the form of a videoconference. The leaders also urged for an urgent ceasefire, the prompt announcement of a prisoner exchange and resumption of peacemaking efforts in Ukraine,” the Kremlin said.
“The Russian President expressed the utmost concern over the ongoing actions by the Ukrainian army, emphasising that they are resulting in shells hitting Russian territory and are causing casualties, as in the recent case in the Rostov Region, which is absolutely unacceptable.”