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Obama talks to European leaders about Ukraine

Friday - 4/25/2014, 12:41pm  ET

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- President Barack Obama has held a conference call with leaders from Germany, France, Britain and Italy to discuss possible responses to the crisis in Ukraine.

In advance of that call, Obama told reporters in South Korea that the U.S. and Europe are preparing sanctions that would hit broad sectors of Russia's economy, in case Moscow invades eastern Ukraine. So far, the U.S. has slapped sanctions only on individuals.

Unless there's a full-on military incursion, Obama indicated that Russia won't see the beefed-up sanctions. There are concerns that the sanctions could ricochet and hurt U.S. allies in Europe that do business with Russia.

Obama told reporters, "We'll continue to keep some arrows in our quiver in the event we see further deterioration."

Following the phone call, the French president's office said the leaders stressed the importance of implementing the agreement reached last week in Geneva that was supposed to ease tensions in Ukraine. They also discussed the prospect of new sanctions.

As if to underscore the costs of sanctions that have already been imposed, the credit agency Standard & Poor's today cut Russia's credit rating for the first time in more than five years.

%@AP Links

182-c-21-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent)-"those right now"-AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports the sanctions are likely to target top Russian officials. (25 Apr 2014)

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181-c-23-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent)-"standing on principle"-AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports there seems little doubt the sanctions are imminent. (25 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO XMB105: A pro Russian masked man smokes behind a barricade placed around the local government building in Horlivka, 43 kilometers (27 miles) northeast Donetsk, Ukraine, Friday, April 25, 2014. Accusing the West of plotting to control Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared Friday that the pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine will only lay down their arms if the Ukrainian government clears out the Maidan protest camp in Kiev. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) (25 Apr 2014)

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