By Amie Parnes - 08/01/14 01:47 PM EDT
President Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday about the crisis in Ukraine, three days after the U.S. executed a new round of sanctions on Moscow.
Obama “reiterated his deep concerns about Russia's support for separatists in Ukraine,” according to a White House readout of the call. “The president reinforced his preference for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and the two leaders agreed to keep open their channels of communication.”
Obama also expressed concern with Russia's possible violation of a 1987 nuclear missile treaty.
Russia violated the treaty, the U.S. says, because it tested a prohibited cruise missile.
Vice President Biden also spoke to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday to discuss the crisis in the Ukraine and efforts to allow full access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which the U.S. believes was shot down by pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Biden announced about $8 million in new assistance to the Ukrainian State Border Guard service, according to the White House. The money will be used for “engineering equipment for improving infrastructure along Ukraine's borders, transport and patrol vehicles, surveillance equipment to extend the visual range of border security patrols and small boats to conduct maritime patrol equipment.”
Poroshenko told Biden that the crash site had been secure even with separatist attacks in the area.
The two leaders also discussed the uptick in rocket fire coming from the Russian side of the border.