Obama phones Putin, warns him to negotiate ahead of Minsk summit

 
Billy Ehrenberg
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"Hello, Dimitri?" (Source: Getty)

US President Barack Obama has upped the rhetoric over Ukraine, using a phone call to tell Vladimir Putin to negotiate a peaceful settlement this week. The phone call came after Obama confirmed he had asked officials to look into supplying the Ukrainian government with weapons to fight the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.

Putin is meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande in Minsk this Wednesday. Obama is said to be keen that the opportunity for a peaceful resolution be taken.

In a statement issued later, the White House said:

If Russia continues its aggressive actions in Ukraine, including by sending troops, weapons, and financing to support the separatists, the costs for Russia will rise.

Whether these costs were financial or military was unclear, but Russia has already been hard hit by sanctions which have had little or no positive effect or reigning in Putin’s bellicosity.

Before the report of Obama’s phone call, Nikolai Patrushev , head of the Kremlin’s security council, said the US was trying to pull Russia into the conflict by planning to arm Ukraine. The adviser said Moscow would view such a move as extremely serious.

The Americans are trying to draw the Russian Federation into an interstate military conflict, to achieve regime change through the events in Ukraine and to ultimately dismember our country.

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