As Crimea votes for reunion with Russia, West braces for sanction

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Russia-West-bracesIn what is supposed to be the bitter-most phase in East and West relations after cold war, the US and the EU are considering to impose more sanctions on Russia, calling a referendum held in Crimea as “illegal”.

In a referendum held in Crimea, for which over 75 per cent votes have been counted, officials said that more than 95 per cent of people voted in favour of reuniting with the Russian federation. Complete results are expected later on Monday.

Meanwhile, miffed with the vote, the European Union in a statement said that the vote was illegal and illegitimate and that it will not be recognised.

The EU is also mulling sanctions on key Russian officials

According to the BBC, the EU foreign ministers are expected to gather in Brussels at 08:30 GMT to discuss the sanctions.

Also, the US President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia “would never be recognized” by the United States.

The two leaders spoke after residents in Crimea voted overwhelmingly in favor of the split in a referendum that the United States, European Union and others say violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law and took place in the strategic peninsula under duress of Russian military intervention. Putin maintained that the vote was legal and consistent with the right of self-determination, according to the Kremlin. But the White House said Obama reminded Putin that the U.S. and its allies in Europe would impose sanctions against Russia should it annex Crimea. U.S. and EU sanctions are expected to be announced Monday.

In the call, which came amid a heightened exchange of decidedly Cold War-style rhetoric between East and West, Obama urged Putin to pursue a diplomatic de-escalation of the crisis, support the Ukraine government’s plans for political reform, return its troops in Crimea to their bases, and halt advances into Ukrainian territory and military build-ups along Ukraine’s borders.

Obama told Putin that “a diplomatic resolution cannot be achieved while Russian military forces continue their incursions into Ukrainian territory and that the large-scale Russian military exercises on Ukraine’s borders only exacerbate the tension,” the White House said in a statement.

In a call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “strong concerns” about Russian military activities in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, where Russian troops appeared Saturday, and about “continuing provocations” in cities in east Ukraine, the State Department said.

Kerry “made clear that this crisis can only be resolved politically and that as Ukrainians take the necessary political measures going forward, Russia must reciprocate by pulling forces back to base and addressing the tensions and concerns about military engagement,” it said.

Obama threatened “additional costs” for Moscow after the US last week imposed visa bans targeting those blamed for threatening the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.