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In call, Obama warns Putin on Ukraine

President Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to warn that Russia risks greater costs if it continues to provide separatists operating in eastern Ukraine with troops, weapons and financing.

The call came ahead of discussions planned later this week between diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France to discuss a multilateral solution to the ongoing crisis, in which pro-Russian separatists continue to engage in bloody clashes with government forces.

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"President Obama underscored the rising human toll of the fighting and underscored the importance of President Putin seizing the opportunity presented by the ongoing discussions between Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine to reach a peaceful resolution," the White House said in a statement.

The call came a day after President Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington, and conspicuously declined to rule out the possibility of sending arms to bolster Ukrainian defenses.

"What I’ve asked my team to do is to look at all options — what other means can we put in place to change Mr. Putin’s calculus — and the possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that’s being examined," Obama said. "But I have not made a decision about that yet."

Members of the administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have advocated the provision of lethal weaponry, but international leaders — including Merkel — have warned such provisions could escalate the conflict.

Europe and the U.S. are expected to also impose additional economic sanctions if the peace talks later this week fail.