President Barack Obama wants his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to take steps to rebuild the trust shattered by Russia's actions in Ukraine.
WARSAW, POLAND (CNN) - President Barack Obama wants his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to take steps to rebuild the trust shattered by Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Obama's comment came as he visited Poland Tuesday, the first stop on his three-country European trip which is intended, in part, to reassure allies in Eastern Europe unnerved by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
Putin "has a choice to make" on Ukraine, Obama said during a news conference in Warsaw, calling on the Russian President to continue to pull back Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, persuade pro-Russia separatists to stand down and back Ukraine's recent presidential election.
If the United States sees "responsible behavior" from Russia, Obama said, "I think it is possible for us to try to rebuild some of the trust that has been shattered." But he warned that it will take "quite some time."
Kiev and the West have said the separatists in Ukraine are coordinated and supplied by Russia, a claim that Moscow denies.
Obama, speaking alongside Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, said he had always had a "business-like relationship" with his Russian counterpart and that he had conveyed the same messages to him in private conversations as were made in public.
He said Washington wanted good relations with Russia and was not interested in threatening it -- but said that sanctions imposed over its Crimea annexation would be maintained and that more have been drawn up in case of further destabilization in the east.
Obama added that he was "sure" he would cross paths with Putin while both leaders are in France at the end of the week for events to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The U.S. President said he was looking forward to meeting with Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, adding that his election last month "gives us some momentum to build on as we move forward."
He also stressed the need for Ukraine to pursue economic as well as political reform, including taking steps to reduce its reliance on natural gas from Russia.