WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama spoke by telephone Thursday and discussed continued tensions in eastern Ukraine and the fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East. The last time the men spoke was in February, the White House said.
Both the White House and the Kremlin offered similar statements descibing the conversation, Thursday evening. The White House said Putin initiated the call to Obama.
The White House said Obama told Putin Russia needs to meet commitments it made in Minsk, Belarus, earlier this year, including the removal of troops and equipment from Ukrainian territory. The Kremlin said the two leaders agreed that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin will discuss implementation of these agreements.
The call came on the same day NATO’s supreme allied commander cited a continuous flow of ammunition and other military supplies from Russia across the border to Ukraine.
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The Kremlin said the two men devoted “significant attention” to confronting terrorism and the Islamic State in particular and agreed to have Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meet to review the issue.
The White House and the Kremlin said the two leaders also addressed continued bloodshed in Syria and agreed on the importance of unity among the six world powers that are negotiating to restrict Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
The call from Putin came just days after the Russian leader spoke with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the situation in eastern Ukraine, a day before Paris talks between the foreign ministers of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine.
France and Germany co-sponsored February’s peace deal that helped reduce hostilities between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian troops, but fighting again escalated in recent weeks.