Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern
Ukraine earlier in the day, expanding their control after the
government failed to follow through on a threatened military
In a call that the White House said Moscow requested, Obama told
Putin that those forces were threatening to undermine and
destabilize the government in Kiev.
"The president emphasized 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," the White House said in a
Obama said Russian troops needed to withdraw from Ukraine's border
to defuse tensions and made a point of praising Kiev for its
"remarkable restraint" and efforts to unify the country with
elections, constitutional reform and proposals to decentralize power
to local governments.
"The president noted Russia's growing political and economic
isolation as a result of its actions in Ukraine and made clear that
the costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions
persist," the White House said.
"(He) said that while he continues to believe that a diplomatic
solution is still possible, it cannot succeed in an environment of
Russian military intimidation on Ukraine's borders, armed
provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by Kremlin
The Kremlin said Putin told Obama during the call that Russia was
not interfering in Ukraine and urged Washington to use its influence
to prevent bloodshed.
Earlier, U.S. officials stopped short of announcing a new set of
sanctions against Russia but said they were in consultations with
European partners about the prospect.
The European Union agreed on Monday to step up sanctions against
Moscow by expanding a list of people subjected to asset freezes and
A senior administration official described the call between Obama
and Putin as "frank and direct," a diplomatic construction that
usually means tense.
The next round of U.S. sanctions, which would be the fourth imposed
since the Ukraine crisis began, is likely to target Russians close
to Putin as well as Russian entities, three sources familiar with
the discussions said on Sunday.
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U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that the United
States was prepared to impose sanctions on individuals and entities
in the financial services, energy, metals, mining, engineering and
The sanctions have been the most visible sign of U.S. anger at
Russia's annexation of the Crimea region in southern Ukraine last
month, reflecting the deepest plunge in U.S.-Russian relations since
the Cold War.
U.S. officials declined to identify a timeline on Monday for further
"I can assure you that Russia's provocations — further
transgressions and provocations will come with a cost. And I'm not
here to specify what cost will come from which specific action, but
there have already been costs imposed on Russia; there will be
further costs imposed on Russia," White House spokesman Jay Carney
Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande about the crisis
on Monday and, as he did later with Putin, praised Ukraine's
government for showing restraint, a sign Washington hopes Kiev will
hold that course.
Carney also confirmed that the director of the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, had been in Kiev over the weekend
and decried what he called "false claims" leveled at the CIA by
"U.S. and Russian intelligence officials have met over the years. To
imply that U.S. officials meeting with their counterparts (in Kiev)
is anything other than in the same spirit is absurd," he said.
According to media reports, Russia had urged Washington to explain
what Brennan was doing in Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Jim Loney; editing by Ken Wills)
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