President Barack Obama voiced deep concerns in a telephone conversation with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Friday about increased support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the White House said.

Days after Washington introduced the most robust sanctions yet against Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis, Putin told Obama that the measures were “counterproductive”.

“The Russian leader described Washington’s course of ramping up sanctions pressure as counterproductive, causing serious damage to bilateral relations and international stability in general,” the Kremlin statement said.

The United States on Friday pledged about $8m (£4.75m) in new aid to bolster Ukraine’s border guard service as the country struggles to counter pro-Russian separatist groups.

The US vice-president, Joe Biden, promised the assistance in a phone call with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, the White House said in a statement. The aid includes engineering and surveillance equipment, transport and patrol vehicles, and small boats.

Ties between the United States and Russia have plunged to their lowest level since the end of the cold war over the Ukraine crisis, which Washington accuses Moscow of fanning with weapons and support.

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