The United States says it does not recognize the outcome of the referendum held in the Ukrainian region of Crimea and is preparing to impose retaliatory penalties against Russia if it annexes the strategic peninsula on the Black Sea.
“The United States has steadfastly supported the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine since it declared its independence in 1991, and we reject the ‘referendum’ that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine,” said a White House statement.
The statement added that the vote on whether the region should separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia was “not necessary” while denouncing it for being held under “threats of violence and intimidation”.
“This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.”
Washington believes the new Ukrainian government should be involved in any decision about the future of Crimea.
The White House statement said that Kremlin will have to face “increasing costs” from the US and its allies due to what it called “dangerous and destabilizing” actions by Russia with regard to Ukraine.
“As the United States and our allies have made clear, military intervention and violation of international law will bring increasing costs for Russia — not only due to measures imposed by the United States and our allies but also as a direct result of Russia’s own destabilizing actions.”
Meanwhile, American officials reiterated that Washington and the European Union are preparing to take retaliatory measures against Moscow in case it refuses to back down from its position.
They also threatened Russia with additional penalties if the country takes any action on eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said that West’s retaliatory steps against Moscow would hurt the Russian economy and weaken its influence in the world.
“President Putin has a choice about what he’s going to do here. Is he going to continue to further isolate himself, further hurt his economy, further diminish Russian influence in the world, or is he going to do the right thing?” he said.
This as Electoral Commission of Crimea region says an absolute majority of the Crimeans have voted to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
The commission says half of ballots are counted and 95% of participants voted in favor of joining Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told US President Barack Obama that the referendum complies with the international law.
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