European leaders will discuss ways to continue the pressure on Russian president Vladimir Putin and ease the crisis in Ukraine, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister spoke to German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy ahead of a European Council summit this weekend.

Ukraine will be a key issue at the talks, which will also consider new appointments to the roles of council president and high representative, which is currently held by Baroness Ashton.

On the Ukraine crisis, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "(Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel) agreed that Saturday's European Council should address the ongoing situation in eastern Ukraine, including Russia's provocative actions.

"Both leaders agreed that there could be no military solution to the crisis and President Putin had to enter into negotiations in good faith to find a political solution.

"The Prime Minister also spoke to President Van Rompuy yesterday afternoon about the summit, including the appointment of the new council president and high representative and the situation in Ukraine, on which they agreed that the EU should continue to put pressure on President Putin to de-escalate the situation.

"They also agreed that leaders should address the situation in Iraq and Syria and how the EU can help to co-ordinate national responses, including efforts to tackle foreign fighters."

Following the calls, which took place yesterday, the spokeswoman added: "On the appointments, (Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel) agreed that there are a number of credible candidates for both roles.

"The Prime Minister emphasised that it is important that the next council president is willing to work with Britain to address our concerns in the coming years."