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Ukraine as it happened: Crimean referendum widens US-Russia split

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Ukraine as it happened: Crimean referendum widens US-Russia split


The Russian Parliament could organize a vote on Crimea’s annexation five days after the referendum on the pro-Russian region. The proposal was approved today by the parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Legislation and should be discussed in the Duma, next Tuesday. A decision that risks to inflame further the tension with US and EU that approved yesterday a first set of sanctions against Moscow.

In the meantime, an International team of OSCE observers was blocked for the second time since yesterday from entering in Crimea by unidentified armed men.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned today that they intend to respond to EU “nonconstructive” sanctions, “Russia will not accept such language of sanctions and threats, but, in the event of their implementation in practice they will not be left without a response”, the Russian diplomacy said on a note published on the Foreign Ministry website.

Earlier, Russia has allegedly decided to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine, according sources quoted by the Ukrainian news agency Unian. The agency reports that the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin announced the decision. “Moscow does not recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian power, that is why we decided to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine”, said Churkin.

Earlier, Russia’s upper house of the Parliament supported Crimea’s parliament right to hold a referendum on the region’s future status.

Foreign ministers from central Europe, the Baltics and Nordics condemned on Friday Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and a planned referendum planned by Crimea’s government, calling for the EU to send an observation mission to Kiev. The group of countries, many of them sharing land borders with Russia or the Ukraine and living with the memory of Soviet rule, have taken a tough line in the face of Moscow as the crisis has escalated. “Nordic and Baltic countries and the Visegrad countries’ foreign ministers condemned today … the attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and also condemned the illegal referendum on the joining of Crimea with Russia,” the ministers said in joint statement from the meeting.

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