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US warns Russia it faces isolation, sanctions in coming days

Published on Mar 17, 2014 12:06 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The White House warned President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that Moscow would face sanctions in coming days and international isolation that will hurt Russia's economy, as Washington fumed over a referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region that it was powerless to stop.

"We are putting as much pressure on the Russians as we can to do the right thing," White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said as voters in Crimea, under the control of Russian forces, decided whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

With Sunday's referendum widely expected to favor union with Russia for a region that has a Russian-speaking majority, some of President Barack Obama's Republican critics accused the administration of showing weakness in the Ukraine crisis and said now was the time for United States resolve.

Mr Pfeiffer insisted the United States would not recognise the results of the referendum and said the administration was working with European partners to step up pressure on Russia in the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War. Crimea's pro-Russian regional government went ahead with the referendum despite US and European threats against Moscow.

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