Germany's Merkel calls Putin to discuss situation in Ukraine, amid ruble plunge



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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss possible steps to secure a comprehensive cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.

The call late Tuesday came as Russia grappled with a sudden drop in its currency, the ruble. Moscow has accused the West of trying to inflict economic pain on Russia for political ends.

Merkel's office said Wednesday that the two leaders were joined by French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the discussion.

It said they agreed on the need for increased humanitarian aid, including by Ukraine, to separatist-controlled parts of the east.

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