Washington: The United States and international community will never recognise the Crimean referendum to secede from Ukraine, US President Barack Obama has told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
During a telephonic call with Putin yesterday, after the people of Crimea — a province of Ukraine — overwhelmingly voted to merge with Russia, Obama said the Crimean "referendum," not only violated the Ukrainian constitution, but also occurred under duress of Russian military intervention.
"He emphasised that Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in coordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions," the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Obama underscored that there remains a clear path for resolving this crisis diplomatically, in a way that addresses the interests of both Russia and the people of Ukraine, he said.
The US President noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take concrete steps that would allow for the de-escalation of the crisis, particularly as it prepares for elections this Spring and undertakes constitutional reform.
He asked Russia to support the immediate deployment of international monitors to help prevent acts of violence by any groups.
According to the White House, Obama reiterated 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 are only exacerbating the tension.
Obama said that the Secretary of State, John Kerry, continues to be ready to work together with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Ukrainian government to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.