BRISBANE (REUTERS) - The Ukraine crisis overshadowed talks on global economic growth at a G20 leaders meeting on Saturday, with Europe calling on Russia to stop the flow of weapons and troops into the country and holding out the threat of further sanctions if it did not.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Europe's foreign ministers will meet on Monday to assess the situation in Ukraine and whether further steps including additional sanctions were needed against Russia.
"Russia must stop the inflow of weapons and troops from its territory into Ukraine and Russia must withdraw those already present," Mr Van Rompuy told a news conference in Brisbane, the venue of the G20 leaders meeting.
He added that Ukraine would be high on the agenda when EU leaders meet U.S. President Barack Obama at the G20 summit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is also attending the meeting and the comments clearly flag that he will come under intense diplomatic pressure to change tack on Ukraine. "I want to restate that the European Union continues to believe that there can only be a political solution to the crisis. We will continue to use all diplomatic tools, including sanctions, at our disposal," said Mr Van Rompuy.
Ukraine's pro-Western leaders and Nato have accused Russia of sending soldiers and weapons into eastern regions of Ukraine to help pro-Russian rebels launch a possible new offensive in a war that has killed more than 4,000 people since April.
Russia denies sending troops and tanks into Ukraine.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is attending the G20 summit, blasted Russia's actions as unacceptable on Friday, warning that they could draw greater sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
Despite the looming showdown over Ukraine, G20 host Australia sought to keep the focus on boosting world growth, fireproofing the global banking system and closing tax loopholes for giant multinationals.
A plan to increase global economic growth by an additional 2 percentage points over the next five years was on track, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said. "This ambition translates into about US$2 trillion in additional global economic activity and millions of new jobs," he said.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wanted an informal retreat of leaders on Saturday to discuss economic reform but was open to other issues. "Obviously I would like this discussion to focus on the politics of economic reform," Mr Abbott said as he opened the session. "In the end, though, this is your retreat, it is open to any of you to raise any subject that you wish."