Obama, Merkel call for Russian troop withdrawal


President Obama on Thursday told German Chancellor Angela Merkel the international community must be prepared to impose additional sanctions on Russia if the country escalates the situation in Ukraine.

The two spoke by phone Thursday, calling the situation in Ukraine "concerning" where pro-Russian protesters "apparently with support from Moscow, continue an orchestrated campaign of incitement and sabotage to undermine and destabilize the Ukrainian state," according to a readout of the White House call. 

"The leaders again called for Russia to move its troops back from the border region," the readout continued. 

Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the call was meant for checking in on the situation. 

Merkel is scheduled to visit the United States early next month, and the two leaders said they looked forward to ongoing discussions then. 

"The two leaders commended the Ukrainian government’s efforts to move forward on constitutional reform, decentralization, and democratic elections and emphasized the importance of the international community’s strong financial support for Ukraine,” according to the release. 

The United States, Germany and other allies have condemned Russia's invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea and have warned the country about further moves into Eastern Ukraine. 

Obama has already imposed a number of sanctions on officials associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has signed an executive order authorizing sanctions on parts of the Russian economy if the situation escalates.