Obama to rally Europe over Russia sanctions

President Barack Obama will hold a secure video conference with European leaders to discuss the crisis in Ukraine on Tuesday, as Russia faces possible further sanctions for its role in the conflict.

Obama to rally Europe over Russia sanctions
President Obama with President Hollande, Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Merkel at the G20 conference in Brisbane in November 2014. Photo: DPA

The White House said Obama would confer with leaders from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union on a conflict that has now claimed more than 6,000 lives.

Washington and its European allies have accused Russia of fueling the conflict by sending troops and weapons across the border and propping up pro-Moscow separatists.

Moscow denies the charges.

A series of internationally brokered truces have largely been ignored by belligerents, although the German and French governments continue to place their hopes in Russia sticking to the deal.

The German government said on Tuesday morning that Chancellor Angela Merkel had had a productive phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko, dealing with the next steps in implementing the ceasefire plan.

Obama and other leaders have warned that Russia could face further sanctions if a ceasefire is not honoured and heavy weapons are not pulled back from the frontlines.

The White House on Monday expressed its concern about "the continued efforts of Russia and the separatists that they back to flout the agreement that they signed just a couple of weeks ago in Minsk."

It urged Russia and the separatists to allow officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor the weapons withdrawal.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the leaders' focus would be on implementation of the ceasefire agreement.

"I think the principal issue is Ukraine and the importance of the implementation of the Minsk international agreement," the official said.

They may discuss "going further on sanctions if the agreement is not adhered to."

"If the Russian government doesn't play its full part in ensuring the implementation of the deal in Minsk… we think there should be further sanctions."

Obama will confer with Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and EU president Donald Tusk, aides said.

SEE ALSO: Leaders hail Ukraine ceasefire progress

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