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President Obama and Vladimir Putin / Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

President Obama urged Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to stop the flow of arms to separatists in eastern and southern Ukraine, or face the prospect of additional sanctions, officials said after a Monday phone call between the two leaders.

The Kremlin said that Putin backs Ukraine's call for a ceasefire, but ultimate peace requires "ending (Ukraine) military actions and starting direct talks between the conflicting sides."

Obama and Putin have clashed over Russian activity in Ukraine, including its annexation of the Crimea region. The United States has accused Putin's government of fomenting separatist violence in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Putin, meanwhile, has said he is protecting the interests of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama urged the Russian leader to stop supporting pro-Russian separatists who are committing violence in eastern and southern Ukraine, and to cut off a flow of arms to various groups.

"Though we believe a diplomatic solution is still possible, Russia will face additional costs if we do not see concrete actions to deescalate the situation," Earnest said.

The United States and allies, who have already placed some sanctions on Russia, are backing a peace plan proposed by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko.

The White House and Kremlin statements said that Obama and Putin also talked about ways to end ongoing violence in Iraq and Syria, as well as efforts to ensure that Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.



Copyright 2014USAToday

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