EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels are discussing the bloc’s response, including imposing a visa ban and an asset freeze against a number of Russian officials following Crimea’s controversial referendum on Sunday.
According to Crimean officials, Sunday’s referendum overwhelmingly backed leaving Ukraine.
Ukraine’s chief electoral official, Mikhail Malyshev, said the vote was nearly 97% in favor of joining the Russian Federation, with a turnout of 83%.
The EU has already suspended talks on an economic pact with Russia and an easing of visa restrictions.
Speaking in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the “so-called referendum” was “illegal under the constitution of Ukraine and under international law”.
“I call upon Russia yet again to meet with Ukrainian leaders and to start a dialogue with them, and to try to move to de-escalation, please, as quickly as possible. We’ve seen no evidence of that,” Catherine Ashton told reporters.
The baroness said the EU “can’t simply sit back and say this situation can be allowed to happen”, but that ministers needed to think carefully about what their response should be.
The White House has also described Russia’s actions in Crimea as “dangerous and destabilizing”, and said the international community would not recognize the results of a poll “administered under threats of violence”.
President Barack Obama has warned Moscow that Washington is also ready to impose “costs” over its actions in Ukraine.
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