President Obama spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Wednesday evening, after discussing the ongoing conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists earlier in the day during a rare teleconference with top European leaders.

The outreach efforts came ahead of a two-day gathering for European leaders starting Thursday in Milan, where Poroshenko and other European countries are seeking a deal to keep Russian gas flowing through the winter.


Such a deal is vital for Ukraine's sputtering economy, but Obama and other European leaders remain upset that Moscow hasn't done more to abide by the terms of a ceasefire agreement reached earlier this year. Russian-backed rebels continue to attack Ukrainian infrastructure daily, including the airport in the contested city of Donetsk.

"Both leaders agreed that the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan on October 16-17 offers a good opportunity for leaders to press President Putin to abide by all aspects of the peace plan, including putting in place an effective mechanism for controlling and monitoring the border between Russia and eastern Ukraine," the White House said in a statement. "Additionally, they discussed energy security, political and economic reform, and how best to work together with international financial institutions and bilateral partners to support Ukraine’s economy."

Following the earlier teleconference with the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, the White House said leaders agreed on "the need for Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the Minsk agreements" and to "work alongside international financial institutions to support Ukraine’s economy."

Last month, the U.S. and European Union announced sweeping sanctions targeting Russia's defense, finance and energy industries, including penalties on the country’s largest bank and many state-owned oil companies. There's concern the penalties could complicate Russia's willingness to strike a long-term energy deal with Ukraine.