Merkel raps Putin as Russian forces tighten grip on Crimea
Published on Mar 10, 2014 12:47 PM
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (REUTERS) - Germany's Angela Merkel delivered a rebuke to President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, telling him that a planned Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia was illegal and violated Ukraine's constitution.
Putin defended breakaway moves by pro-Russian leaders in Crimea, where Russian forces tightened their grip on the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula by seizing another border post and a military airfield.
As thousands staged rival rallies in Crimea, street violence flared in Sevastopol, when pro-Russian activists and Cossacks attacked a group of Ukrainians.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all parties to remain calm and urged a political solution to the crisis, during telephone calls with US President Barack Obama and Merkel.
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