US President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Tuesday agreed to coordinate measures for imposing new sanctions on Russia if it fails to initiate prompt action toward deescalating conflict in Ukraine.
A decision in this regard was taken after Obama spoke with Hollande over phone to consult about the situation in eastern Ukraine, the White House said, adding that the two leaders agreed that their preference remains a bilateral ceasefire, fully supported by Russia, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict, including the release of all hostages.
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They agreed that Russia has a responsibility to cease its destabilising activities by no longer facilitating the transit of weapons and fighters across the border, ceasing its own military build-up near the border, and halting its ongoing direct and indirect support for violent separatists, the White House said.
“The Presidents decided that the US and Europe should take further coordinated measures to impose costs on Russia if it does not take immediate steps toward de-escalation,” the White House said.
Obama would also discuss the situation in Ukraine when he meets NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said there’s clearly a significant movement of people due to the violence caused by the pro- Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, though the vast majority have not sought refugee status.
“That hasn’t changed. This is single-source reporting strictly from the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Government, and that’s one of the reasons that we expressed doubt about the numbers or the range of numbers that were reported in this case,” she said in response to a question.