UK & World News
Putin Calls Obama Over Ukraine Diplomacy
Russian President Vladimir Putin has phoned his US counterpart to discuss a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
During an hour-long conversation with Barack Obama, he was urged to write down a "concrete response" to US proposals for resolving tensions in the region.
The call, described by a senior Obama administration official as "frank and direct", is believed to be the first direct conversation between the two leaders since sanctions were imposed on Mr Putin's inner circle.
A White House spokesman said Mr Obama had "underscored" the United States' support for the people of the Ukraine and its aim of de-escalating the crisis.
"The President made clear this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," he said.
"Mr Obama reiterated the United States has strongly opposed the actions Russia has already taken to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The phone call comes after Mr Obama said the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukraine border is out of the ordinary and called on Moscow to pull its military back.
He said Mr Putin appeared to be stuck in a Cold War mentality and had shown "a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union".
"You would have thought after a couple of decades there'd be an awareness on the part of any Russian leader that the path forward is not to revert back to the kinds of practices that were so prevalent during the Cold War," he said in an interview with CBS.
But on Saturday, Russia insisted it has no intention of sending armed forces into Ukraine.
In an interview on Russian TV Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "We have absolutely no intention of - or interest in - crossing Ukraine's borders."
US officials estimate as many as 40,000 Russian troops have gathered near the Ukrainian border, where they claim they have begun establishing supply lines.
On Friday, Russia announced all military bases in Crimea are under its control and Ukrainian troops have left the region.
It has been accused of invading Crimea in the aftermath of the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, although Mr Putin described the soldiers who took over Ukrainian bases on the peninsula as "self-defence forces".
Crimea voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia in a referendum denounced as invalid by Western powers.