The White House blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, saying his request that Kiev withdraw its troops from eastern Ukraine is "preposterous."
"That was a rather remarkable statement by a senior Russian government official who called on Ukraine to remove its forces from its country, which is preposterous, if you think about it," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
“Putin emphasized that it was imperative today to withdraw all military units from the southeastern regions, stop the violence and immediately launch a broad national dialogue as part of the constitutional reform process involving all regions and political forces,” Interfax said.
Carney said there was "no question" the deteriorating conditions on the ground would be a "focus of the conversation" between Obama and Merkel.
"There has been a great deal of collaboration and cooperation in that effort between the United States and the EU, as well as all the members of the G-7, so we expect that effort to continue, and we expect to continue a path that sees an international coalition escalating the costs that Russia will have to endure," Carney said.
The president is expected to push Merkel to impose tougher penalties on Russia, if the crisis escalates further. There is concern that Russia, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, could balk at more serious sanctions against Moscow.
"I think that what is true is that each nation within the EU and obviously the United States and other nations, have a different kind of economic relationship with Russia, and so sanctions will affect different nations differently, and that's something that I think we all take into account as we move forward with sanctions," Carney said.
But the White House spokesman expressed confidence that the U.S. could rally European partners, if necessary.
"Ultimately, as leaders in Europe have said publicly, when it comes to the fundamental necessity of upholding international law and respecting sovereignty and the territorial integrity of sovereign nations, there is a requirement essentially that in order to make clear that these transgressions are unacceptable that everyone opposing them has to bear some of the burden of taking action," Carney said.