(WASHINGTON) -- As pro-Russian separatists continue to hold buildings throughout eastern Ukraine, President Obama spoke by phone Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to stop the situation from spinning out of control. According to a statement issued by the White House, the president "expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine."
The president emphasized that a diplomatic solution, while still possible, is being made difficult by Russian troops near Ukraine's border, the instigation of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and the Kremlin's belligerent rhetoric. Meanwhile, Moscow dismissed Obama's concerns, claiming that speculation about Russian involvement in the affairs of southeastern Ukraine was "based on inaccurate information." Instead, Putin blamed the current unrest in Ukraine on the "unwillingness and inability" of the interim government "to take into account the interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population."
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