A few hours ago, Obama and Putin held their sixth phone conversation since the fate of Ukraine rekindled the second cold war. As usual, much was said, the generic talking points were uttered, and nothing was resolved nor will anything change.
First, here is the White House repeating, literally for the sixth time, the "costs" line:
Readout of the President’s Call with President Putin
At Moscow’s request, President Obama spoke with Russian President Putin today about the situation in Ukraine. The President expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine. The President emphasized that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized. The President reiterated the importance of Russia withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s border in order to defuse tensions. President Obama noted that despite the rhetoric from Russian officials, the government of Ukraine has acted with remarkable restraint, and he praised the Ukrainian government’s efforts to unify the country by holding free and fair presidential elections on May 25, pursuing inclusive constitutional reform and proposing concrete steps toward the decentralization of power. The President noted Russia’s growing political and economic isolation as a result of its actions in Ukraine and made clear that the costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions persist. The President noted the upcoming contact group meeting in Geneva and said that while he continues to believe that a diplomatic solution is still possible, it cannot succeed in an environment of Russian military intimidation on Ukraine’s borders, armed provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by Kremlin officials.
And from the perspective of the Kremlin:
Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Barack Obama.
The leaders discussed various aspects of the crisis in Ukraine, first and foremost in the southeastern regions engulfed by mass protests against the policies of the current authorities in Kiev.
The Russian side stressed that the protests in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Slavyansk and other cities in southeastern Ukraine are the result of the Kiev authorities’ unwillingness and inability to take into account the interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population. Vladimir Putin called upon Barack Obama to use the American side’s capabilities to prevent the use of force and bloodshed.
In response to the US President’s expressed concern about Russia’s alleged interference in southeastern Ukraine, the President of Russia noted that such speculations are based on inaccurate information. The current Ukrainian authorities must think first and foremost about truly involving all the main political forces and regions in a transparent process for developing a new constitution that guarantees the main rights and freedoms for citizens, the nation’s federal structure and its non-aligned status.
The two sides agreed to continue efforts to seek diplomatic cooperation in the context of the Ukrainian situation ahead of the four-party meeting (EU, Russia, US and Ukraine) scheduled to take place in Geneva on April 17.
Meanwhile, East Ukraine is preparing for a full-blown military operation.
In lieu of an actual updated photo op, here is the stock footage from the first such conversation. It will do the job since it could as easily have been taken in Hollywood.