A masked pro-Russian activist looks from a balcony of the regional administration building decorated with a banner reading “Donetsk Republic” in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, April 12, 2014. The unrest in Donetsk and Slovyansk, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) to the north, were the latest shows of spiraling anger in eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population and was also the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who was ousted in February after months of protests in the capital, Kiev.(AP Photo/Max Vetrov)
Leaders spoke for the first time in two weeks but showed little sign of agreement over pro-Russian insurgency
U.S. President ‘expressed grave concern’ about Russian government support for armed separatist movement
Mr Putin told Mr Obama that reports of Russian interference in region were ‘based on unreliable information’
Barack Obama has urged Vladimir Putin to use his influence to convince pro-Russian forces to abandon government buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine.
The two spoke for the first time in more than two weeks but showed little sign of agreement, with the U.S. president calling on pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation, and Mr Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.
The White House said Russia initiated the phone call, which came as pro-Russian forces deepened their insurgency in Ukraine’s east, seizing more than a dozen government buildings.
The White House said: ‘The president expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilise the government of Ukraine.
‘The president emphasised that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged president Putin to use his influence with these armed pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized.’
- Send in the UN peacekeepers, pleads Ukraine as pro-Russian militias in Ukraine openly defy deadline to lay down guns
- Spark that could ignite this tinderbox: IAN BIRRELL on how Ukraine’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation could lead to a full-scale invasion from Russia
The Kremlin said Mr Putin told Mr Obama that reports of Russian interference in the region were ‘based on unreliable information’. The Russian leader also urged Mr Obama to discourage the Ukrainian government from using force against those protesters.
Both sides suggest that plans will go forward for talks on Thursday in Geneva between the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and Europe.
Tags: Black Sea, Breedlove, Brennan, Britain, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, economic sanctions, France, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Germany, Joe Biden, John Brennan, Kerry, Lavrov, Lugansk, NATO, Obama, Oleksandr Turchynov, Peterson Institute of International Economics, pro-Russia protesters, pro-Russian insurgency, Pro-Russian separatists, pro-Russian separatists encouraged by Moscow, Putin, Russian forces, Russian interference, Russian military, Russian Troops, sanctions, separatists, Turchynov, U.N. Security Council, U.S., U.S. military, U.S. warship in the Black Sea, Ukraine, Ukrainians, Vladimir Putin