German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have held talks in northern France on the sidelines of ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

The talks focused on the crisis in Ukraine, which has cast an awkward pall over proceedings in Normandy.

Ms Merkel called on Russia to "live up to its responsibility" to ease the crisis.

The chancellor said: "the time must now be used, after the internationally recognised presidential election, to stabilise the situation, especially in Eastern Ukraine. 

Russia must live up to its significant responsibility in this matter," Ms Merkel said, according to her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Mr Putin also met British Prime Minster David Cameron and French president last night.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Mr Hollande underscored the need for a truce in Ukraine during his meeting with Mr Putin in Paris.

Mr Fabius also said Mr Hollande had raised the issue of Russia's gas supplies to Ukraine.

Russian state-controlled giant Gazprom has doubled its prices and demanded billions in back payments from cash-strapped Ukraine, threatening to turn off the taps if it does not get its money.

"We held very frank discussions," Mr Fabius said, adding Mr Putin had admitted that he "could have a certain influence but not total influence" over events in Ukraine.

Elsewhere, it is reported that Ukraine and Russia will restart talks over the weekend to try to resolve the gas dispute.