Edited by Nelly T.
The White House reported President Obama called his Russian counterpart to urge him to use his nations influence with the Assad regime to stop fighting in both Syria and Ukraine from escalating.
Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary said the American President called to “make the case to President Putin that he should use his influence with the Assad regime to live up to the commitments hat they’re made in the context of the cessation of hostilities.”
Russia received the call as fighting along Syria’s border with Turkey escalated between Syrian government forces and U.S. backed opposition, thereby breaking Syria’s seven-week long ceasefire.
Eastern Ukraine has had a steady increase of shelling along the front line, which until recently has remained largely dormant since last year, while the partial ceasefire in Syria negotiated by Moscow and Washington, D.C., in February tonight appeared to be on the verge of final collapse.
The opposition blamed the renewed violence on offensives by troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom they’ve accused of pounding areas under rebel control and of launching an advance against the city of Aleppo. Talks could not continue while government troops conducted major attacks on the opposition said the spokesperson for the U.S. backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC).
In a statement, the Kremlin said the two leaders agreed on the importance of upholding the ceasefire, but added that the moderate opposition must “distance themselves swiftly from ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra,” an al-Qaeda affiliates. The ceasefire agreement excludes both these groups and the U.S. is concerned that Assad and Moscow will take advantage of this fact and attack moderate group, as they have done previously.
Obama also asked Putin “to take steps to end the significant uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine,” as said in a statement from the White House. In response Putin expressed his hope that Ukraine’s new government would make efforts to fulfill its obligations under a peace plan brokered last year.
The phone call also followed a diplomatic spat between Moscow and Washington last week, after Russian warplanes repeatedly buzzed an American destroyer in the Baltic Sea, prompting load protests from the Pentagon. Moscow has denied its aircraft did anything inappropriate.
Despite the vocal grievances from U.S. officials, a White House spokesman said Obama did not raise the incident with Putin.