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«The EU foreign ministers will on Monday assess the situation on the ground and discuss possible further steps.» Von Rompuy declined to comment on the likelihood of the EU increasing sanctions

BRISBANE, Australia — President Barack Obama met with European leaders Sunday to discuss the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, where officials say the security situation is worsening.

Russian President Vladimir Putin departed the Group of 20 economic summit in Australia a day early, just as the meeting about the Ukraine crisis was getting underway.

Before leaving, Putin told a group of reporters he believes there is a «good chance» the conflict could be resolved, according to Reuters.

«Today the situation in my view has good chances for resolution, no matter how strange it may sound, but certain structures had been established on both sides that could handle the tasks they are facing better,» Putin said.

Putin has faced a chorus of criticism from world leaders about his government’s role in fueling the Ukraine crisis.

French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among the European leaders attending the meeting, along with leaders from Italy and 바카라사이트 Spain and EU representatives.

More in Ukraine in Turmoil

The U.S. and European Union have levied multiple rounds of sanctions against Russia, but the penalties have failed to change Putin’s calculus. The West accuses Russia of arming and supplying rebel forces that have destabilized cities in eastern Ukraine.

«We will continue to use all diplomatic tools including sanctions at our disposal,» European Union President Herman von Rompuy told reporters on Saturday. «The EU foreign ministers will on Monday assess the situation on the ground and discuss possible further steps.»

Von Rompuy declined to comment on the likelihood of the EU increasing sanctions.

«Russia has still the opportunity to fulfill its Minsk agreements and chose the path of de-escalation, which could allow sanctions to be rolled back,» he said. «If it does not do so however, we are ready to consider additional action.»

«We need to avoid a return to a full-scale conflict,» he said.

Earlier Saturday, Putin received a less-than-warm welcome from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he approached Harper for a handshake.

«I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine,» Harper told Putin, according to the prime minister’s spokesman, Jason MacDonald.

As for Putin’s reaction? «I can say that he did not respond positively,» MacDonald said in an email, declining to give further details.

In a speech at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Obama said that the U.S. was a leading voice in opposing Russian aggression in Ukraine, which he described as «a threat to the world.»

He referred to the shooting down on July 17 of a Malaysia Airlines jet by a missile suspected to have been fired by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

«As your ally and friend, America shares the grief of these Australian families and we share the determination of your nation for justice and accountability,» Obama said.

Von Rompuy called for both sides to abide by the cease-fire agreement between Ukraine and the rebels that was signed in Minsk, Belarus, in September.

Russia must use its influence on the rebels to ensure they comply with the Minsk agreement, stop the flow of weapons and troops from Russia and withdraw Russian troops already in Ukraine, von Rompuy said.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a similar call. The State Department said Kerry expressed «grave concern» about increased Russian support for the separatists and called for the implementation of the Minsk agreement, including a cease-fire, border monitoring, release of all hostages and a return to dialogue during a discussion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.


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