In the hot seat over recent events in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire between Russia-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government. "Direct talks between the opposing sides must be established as soon as possible. All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt fighting and begin peace negotiations," Putin said on Friday during a meeting with leaders from the Russian Orthodox Church. "It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching what is happening in eastern Ukraine. It's awful, it's a tragedy." Germany's Angela Merkel also called for a ceasefire on Friday.