US Vows Tighter Sanctions On Moscow After Crimea Votes To Join Russia

March 17, 2014Ukraineby EW News Desk Team

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The United States have strongly rejected the legitimacy of a referendum in Crimea to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, warning of “additional costs” to Moscow if Russian President Vladimir Putin does intend to annex the peninsula.

According to AFP, more than 95 percent of Crimea residents had voted in favour of leaving Ukraine; but the White House claimed that the vote had occurred under duress of Russian military intervention; whilst violating Ukraine’s constitution.

“The Crimea ‘referendum’… would never be recognized by the United States and the international community," the White House said in a statement.

"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,” they added.

U.S. President Barack Obama later called up his Russian counterpart to emphasise the point.

Since last week, the United States have imposed visa bans targeting Russians and Ukrainians blamed for threatening the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.

President Barack Obama also signed an executive order paving the way for economic sanctions against individuals or entities in Russia.

US sanctions are expected to be mirrored by several Western powers, with the European Union readying a package of measures including visa bans and asset freezes.

“We’re on the brink of a new cold war where Europe’s view of Russia as a benign nation that could be integrated economically and politically has become history,” told Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, to Bloomberg.

Putin has insisted that the Crimea referendum was conducted in “full accordance with international law and the U.N. charter.” Russia has deployed about 60,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, as reports claim that they are preparing to annex Crimea.

The Crimean parliament plans to meet on Monday to formally ask Moscow to be annexed, and Crimean lawmakers are expected to fly to Moscow later in the day for talks.

Related: Why Russia Fears ‘Losing’ Ukraine

Related: Russia vs. The US: Superpowers Bluff Over Ukraine?

Some residents in Crimea said they feared the new Ukrainian government that took over when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia last month would oppress them.

“I voted for Russia as only Russia can save us from war in the region,” Nadezhda Kolkina, a 64-year-old retiree, said near a polling station in the region’s capital, Simferopol.

“We want to go back home, and today we are going back home,” added Viktoria Chernyshova, a 38-year-old businesswoman, to the Associated Press. “We needed to save ourselves from those unprincipled clowns who have taken power in Kiev.”

However, reports claimed that opponents of secession had stayed away from polls on Sunday, denouncing the vote as illegitimate.

Ukraine’s new prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk declared the vote as a “circus performance” and said that some 15,000 volunteers have been mobilized to protect the nation’s borders.    

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