French President Francois Hollande spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama by telephone on Saturday, March 8, to discuss the situation in Ukraine and its autonomy of Crimea, ITAR-TASS reported.
Both leaders agreed on the need to create a contact group in order to settle the current crisis in Ukraine as soon as possible. This will require Russia's consent. Otherwise, the West will be prepared to take new measures against Moscow, which will "have a substantial impact on relations between the international community and Russia."
"In the current serious circumstances, they stressed the importance for Russia to accept the formation of a contact group for initiating dialogue between Ukraine and Russia, in order to promote a peaceful way out of the crisis promptly and fully restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," the Elysee Palace said.
Hollande and Obama pointed to the absence of any legal basis for the proposed referendum in Crimea on March 16 and stressed the need for Russia to withdraw its forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and do everything possible to enable the deployment of international observers on the peninsula.
They also "agreed to continue their support for the new authorities in Ukraine, as well as the preparation, under international control and greater transparency, of the presidential election on May 25. They scored the importance of continuing to coordinate the positions between the European Union and the United States," the Elysee Palace said.