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Obama warns Putin that US ready to impose sanctions on Russia over Crimea

Published on Mar 17, 2014 8:58 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday the United States rejected the results of a secession referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region and warned that Washington was ready to impose sanctions on Moscow over the crisis.

With Washington and its European allies expected to slap "targeted" punitive measures on Russian officials as early as Monday, the White House said Obama made clear to Putin that the dispute could still be resolved diplomatically but that Russia first must halt military incursions into Ukrainian territory.

Confirming what was considered a foregone conclusion in Sunday's hastily called referendum in Crimea, a region with a Russian-speaking majority, regional authorities said that with over half the vote counted 95.5 per cent had chosen the option of annexation of the strategic peninsula by Moscow.

The regional government in Crimea, now controlled by Russian forces, went ahead with the ballot despite fierce US and European opposition, underscoring the West's limited leverage in the worst standoff of its kind since the end of the Cold War.

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