A showdown between Western leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely at the G20 summit in Australia starting Saturday, following fresh reports of Russian troops pouring into eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has accused Russia of sending soldiers and weapons to help separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine launch a new offensive in a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people.
British Prime Minister David Cameron blasted Russia’s actions as unacceptable on Friday, warning that they could draw greater sanctions from the US and the European Union.
“If Russia takes a positive approach towards Ukraine’s freedom and responsibility, we could see those sanctions removed, if Russia continues to make matters worse then we could see those sanctions increased, it’s as simple as that,” Cameron told reporters in Canberra.
Russia denies sending troops and tanks into Ukraine.
But increasing violence, truce violations and reports of unmarked armed convoys travelling from the direction of the Russian border have aroused fears that a shaky Sept. 5 truce could collapse.
In an interview with Russian state news agency TASS, Putin said the sanctions harmed Russia, but also the global economy. He said he would not bring up the issue at G20 as “it’ll make no sense”.
He was not asked about Ukraine in the interview.
The G20 leaders summit in Brisbane is focused on boosting world growth, fireproofing the global banking system and closing tax loopholes for giant multinationals.
But with much of the economic agenda agreed and a climate change deal signed last week in Beijing between the United States and China, security concerns are moving to centrestage.
Ukraine has not been a top focus during a pair of summits in Asia this week, US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, although President Barack Obama did raise it briefly with Putin when both attended APEC forum in China.
Obama arrives in Brisbane on Saturday and will be discussing his frustration over Ukraine with a key bloc including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Cameron.