Russian Convoy Termed as 'Dangerous Escalation' by Obama, Merkel

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have warned that the presence of Russian military personnel and its shelling in Ukrain's territory was triggering a "dangerous escalation" of the conflict in the region.

Obama spoke with Merkel over phone yesterday, regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which he said "has continued to deteriorate" since the tragic downing of the Malaysian airliner last month, the White House said.

"The two leaders agreed that Russia sending a convoy into Ukraine without Ukraine's approval is a further provocation and a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," said a readout of the phone call.

"They expressed concern that the large numbers of Russian troops on the border of Ukraine, the presence of Russian military personnel in Ukraine, and Russian shelling of Ukrainian territory represent a dangerous escalation," the White House said.

Obama and Merkel agreed that it is imperative that Russia remove its convoy from Ukrainian territory, accept the conditions previously agreed to with Ukraine and the International Red Cross for any humanitarian convoys in Ukraine.

The two leaders also agreed that Russia should de-escalates the situation by removing its military forces from the border region, withdrawing its weapons, vehicles and personnel from the territory of Ukraine, and stopping the flow of Russian personnel, military equipment and armored vehicles into eastern Ukraine.

"They also stressed the importance of a bilateral ceasefire accompanied by closure of the border and effective border monitoring," the White House said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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