Russia has warned the US not to take “hasty and reckless steps” in response to the crisis in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
In a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions on Moscow would harm the US.
Pro-Russian troops have been in control of Crimea for the last week.
Earlier, a stand-off involving pro-Russian soldiers at a Ukrainian military base outside Sevastopol reportedly ended without incident.
Crimea’s parliament announced on Thursday it would hold a referendum on March 16 on whether to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine.
Russia’s parliament has promised to support Crimea if it chooses to become part of Russia.
The vote has been denounced as “illegitimate” by the interim government in Kiev, which took power after President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia last month in the wake of mass protests against his government and deadly clashes with security forces.
In their telephone conversation on Friday, Sergei Lavrov warned John Kerry against taking “hasty and unthought-through steps capable of causing harm to Russian-US relations”, Russia’s foreign ministry reports.
Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions on Russia in response to its involvement in Ukraine “will inevitably have a boomerang effect against the US itself”.
The US State Department said John Kerry had “underscored the importance of finding a constructive way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which would address the interests of the people of Ukraine, Russia and the international community”.
“Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed to continue to consult in the days ahead on the way forward,” said the US statement.
The Pentagon estimates that 20,000 Russian troops may now be in Crimea, while the Ukrainian border guards’ commander puts the figure at 30,000.
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