Pro-Russian rebels guard a check point on a road outside the eastern Ukrainian town of Lugansk, Ukraine, July 12, 2015. Picture taken July 12, 2015. (REUTERS/Kazbek Basayev)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to support peace in Ukraine and said Moscow would face further sanctions if it did not take steps to reduce tensions in the country, the White House said on Monday.
"The president spoke to President Putin and once again urged him to support peace instead of allowing the provision of arms and materiel across the border and continuing support for militants and separatists who are further destabilizing the situation in Ukraine," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
"Russia will face additional costs if we do not see concrete actions to de-escalate the situation," he said of Obama's message to Putin.
The two leaders spoke in a call earlier on Monday.
Putin and Obama discussed proposals for peace in Ukraine, after Ukraine's leader announced a ceasefire in military operations in the east, the Kremlin said in a statement. "They discussed ... the implementation of the peace planproposed by (Ukrainian) President Petro Poroshenko," the Kremlinsaid. "Putin stressed that priority must be given to halting military operations and to the start of direct negotiations between the opposing sides."
The White House said in a follow-up statement that Obama welcomed Poroshenko's peace plan and pressed Putin for Russia to work toward implementing it.
"The president called upon President Putin to press the separatists to recognize and abide by the ceasefire and to halt the flow of weapons and materiel across its border into Ukraine," the statement said.
"The president emphasized that words must be accompanied by actions and that the United States remains prepared to impose additional sanctions should circumstances warrant, in coordination with our allies and partners."
Obama and Putin also discussed the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and efforts to ensure Iran's nuclear program was peaceful.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Leslie Adler)