The British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has accused Russia’s Vladimir Putin of acting like a “mid-20th century tyrant” and warned that he will “pay the price for what he is doing in Ukraine”.
As the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia agreed to meet in Belarus to try and broker a peace deal, Mr Hammond appeared on Sky News to denounce the Kremlin's behaviour as "outrageous and outdated".
The US is considering moves to provide additional supplies and arms to the government in Ukraine - as Russia has been accused of doing with sectarian rebels - but the EU has denied the emergence of a transatlantic rift on the issue.
After meeting the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she respected the internal debate on the subject in the US and "it is up to them to discuss and decide".
"We are united when it comes to support to Ukraine ... we are united when it comes to economic pressure and we are united also on ... the need to have a political dialogue," she said.
Mr Hammond said a decision on whether Britain would also help arm the Ukrainian military was “under review”, but demanded Russia withdraw its troops not only from Donetsk but also from Crimea, which Putin annexed in March last year.
“Don't make it sound like that is an outrageous thing for us to demand [of Mr Putin],” the minister told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme.
“This man has sent troops across an international border and occupied another country's territory in the 21st century acting like some mid-20th century tyrant.
Ukraine crisis: A timeline of the conflict
Ukraine crisis: A timeline of the conflict
1/22 30 November 2013
Public support grows for the “Euromaidan” anti-government protesters in Kiev demonstrating against Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the EU Association Agreement as images of them injured by police crackdown spread.
2/22 20 February 2014
Kiev sees its worst day of violence for almost 70 years as at least 88 people are killed in 48 hours, with uniformed snipers shooting at protesters from rooftops.
3/22 22 February 2014
Yanukovych flees the country after protest leaders and politicians agree to form a new government and hold elections. The imprisoned former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is freed from prison and protesters take control of Presidential administration buildings, including Mr Yanukovych's residence.
Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Imageses
4/22 27 February 2014
Pro-Russian militias seize government buildings in Crimea and the new Ukrainian government vows to prevent the country breaking up as the Crimean Parliament sets a referendum on secession from Ukraine in May.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
5/22 16 March 2014
Crimea votes overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in a ballot condemned by the US and Europe as illegal. Russian troops had moved into the peninsula weeks before after pro-Russian separatists occupied buildings.
6/22 6 April 2014
Pro-Russian rebels seize government buildings in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, calling for a referendum on independence and claiming independent republic. Ukraine authorities regain control of Kharkiv buildings on 8 April after launching an “anti-terror operation” but the rest remain out of their control.
7/22 7 June 2014
Petro Poroshenko is sworn in as Ukraine's president, calling on separatists to lay down their arms and end the fighting and later orders the creation of humanitarian corridors, since violated, to allow civilians to flee war zones.
8/22 27 June 2014
The EU signs an association agreement with Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova, eight months after protests over the abandonment of the deal sparked the crisis.
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
9/22 17 July 2014
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Ukrainian intelligence officials claim it was hit by rebels using a Buk surface-to-air launcher in an apparent accident.
10/22 22 August 2014
A Russian aid convoy of more than 100 lorries enters eastern Ukraine and makes drop in rebel-controlled Luhansk without Government permission, sparking allegations of a “direct violation of international law”.
11/22 29 August 2014
Nato releases satellite images appearing to show Russian soldiers, artillery and armoured vehicles engaged in military operations in eastern Ukraine.
12/22 8 September 2014
Russia warns that it could block flights through its airspace if the EU goes ahead with new sanctions over the ongoing crisis and conflict
13/22 17 September 2014
Despite the cease-fire and a law passed by the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday granting greater autonomy to rebel-held parts of the east, civilian casualties continued to rise, adding to the estimated 3,000 people killed
14/22 16 November 2014
The fragile ceasefire gives way to an increased wave of military activity as artillery fire continues to rock the eastern Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel bastion of Donetsk
15/22 26 December 2014
A new round of ceasefire talks, scheduled on neutral ground in the Belariusian capital Minsk, are called off
16/22 12 January 2015
Soldiers in Debaltseve were forced to prepare heavy defences around the city; despite a brief respite to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, hostilities in Donetsk resumed at a level not seen since September 2014
17/22 21 January 2015
13 people are killed during shelling of bus in the rebel-held city of Donetsk
18/22 24 January 2015
Ten people were killed after pro-Russian separatists bombarded the east Ukrainian port city of Mariupol
19/22 2 February 2015
There was a dangerous shift in tempo as rebels bolstered troop numbers against government forces
20/22 11 February 2015
European leaders meet in Minsk and agree on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine beginning on February 14. From left to right: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
MAXIM MALINOVSKY | AFP | Getty Images
21/22 13 February 2015
Pro-Russian rebels in the city of Gorlivka, in the Donetsk region, fire missiles at Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve. Fighting continued in Debaltseve for a number of days after the Minsk ceasefire began.
ANDREY BORODULIN | AFP | Getty Images
22/22 18 February 2015
Ukrainian soldiers repair the bullet-shattered windshield of their truck as their withdraw from the strategic town of Debaltseve. Following intense shelling from pro-Russian rebels, Ukrainian forces began to leave the town in the early hours of February 18.
Brendan Hoffman | Getty Images
“We do not behave like that. Civilised nations do not behave like that in the 21st century. We live in a rules-based society. We want the Russian people to be part of that international community.
“We want Russia to enjoy the kind of economic growth and rising standards of living that people in the rest of Europe enjoy and we do not see any reason to tolerate this kind of outrageous and outdated behaviour from the Kremlin.”
After a joint phone call today involving Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, the French president Francois Hollande, Mr Poroshenko and Mr Putin, the four agreed to talks in Minsk which will aim to agree an immediate ceasefire.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on French television, said he feared a "dramatic spiral" in violence if dialogue with Moscow did not succeed.
Mr Hammond dismissed an earlier claim from France’s Mr Hollande that current talks were the “last chance for peace” in Ukraine – noting that a military conflict is already under way. But he agreed that a political solution was the only way to end the crisis, adding that “the Kremlin, Mr Putin, has to understand he will pay a political and economic price for what he is doing in the Ukraine”.
At least 5,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since April 2014, when the country's Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich was forced out during mass street protests in Kiev.Reuse content