President Obama spoke by phone yesterday with President Vladimir Putin of Russia to discuss the decisions and agreements made at the February 11 meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and to stress the importance of rapidly implementing humanitarian access to besieged areas of Syria and initiating a nationwide cessation of hostilities. In particular, President Obama emphasized the importance now of Russia playing a constructive role by ceasing its air campaign against moderate opposition forces in Syria. The leaders agreed that the United States and Russia will remain in communication on the important work of the ISSG.
The President also urged combined Russian-separatist forces to fulfill their Minsk obligations, especially adhering to the cease-fire and ensuring that the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has full access to all areas of eastern Ukraine, including the international border. The President reiterated the importance of quickly reaching agreement on the modalities for elections in eastern Ukraine that comply with OSCE standards.