The US and Germany today warned Russia of fresh "severe" sanctions if its leadership continues to destabilise Ukraine and disrupt this month's presidential election.
Barack Obama and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a joint declaration after holding talks at the White House during which the US President said America US and Germany want to see a diplomatic resolution to the situation in Ukraine.
Obama reiterated the view that Ukrainians should be able to make their own decision and Moscow cannot impose its decision on the barrel of the gun.
"We are united in our determination to impose costs on Russia for its actions, including through coordinated sanctions. We're united on our unwavering Article 5 commitment to the security of our NATO allies, including German aircraft joining NATO patrols over the Baltics," Obama said.
"We're united in our support for Ukraine, including the very important IMF programme approved this week to help Ukraine stabilise and reform its economy.
"If in fact, we see the disruptions and the destabilisation continuing so severely that it impedes elections on May 25, we will not have a choice but to move forward with additional... severe sanctions," he said.
Addressing a joint press conference with Merkel, Obama said that as Ukrainian forces move to restore order in eastern Ukraine, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters.
"They are heavily armed militants who are receiving significant support from Russia. The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory, and Russia needs to use its influence over these paramilitary groups so they disarm and stop provoking violence.
"We are united in our outrage over the appalling treatment of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) observers who've been detained in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian militants are still holding seven observers, including four Germans, as well as their Ukrainian escorts," Obama said.
Emerging out of the Oval Office along with Merkel after their talks, Obama told reporters at the Rose garden that the US and Germany want to see a diplomatic resolution to the situation in Ukraine.
"We have also been clear that if the Russian leadership does not change course, it will face increasing costs as well as growing isolation, diplomatic and economic. Already the ruble has fallen to near all-time lows. Russian stocks this year have dropped sharply, and Russia's slipped