- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2014

Amid reports of peace talks, President Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday for the first time since the West imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow for its military aggression in Ukraine.

The White House said Mr. Obama “reiterated his deep concerns about Russia’s increased support for the separatists in Ukraine.” The two leaders agreed to keep open their channels of communication, the statement said.

Mr. Putin is reportedly holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a possible peace deal that would involve stabilizing Ukraine’s borders, ensuring Kiev’s energy supplies and having the international community recognize Crimea’s independence and its annexation by Russia.

The European Union and the U.S. imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia this week, targeting several key economic sectors and large Russian banks.

The White House said Mr. Obama also “reiterated his concerns” about Russia’s alleged violation of the INF Treaty by testing missiles.

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