Preparations are underway for this weekend’s referendum in Crimea on whether the autonomous republic should break away from Ukraine and become part of Russia.
Moscow has said it will respect the results.
The US has called the referendum illegitimate, threatening Russia with further action on Monday if it accepts a request from Crimea to join it.
“There is no justification, no legality to this referendum that is taking place. It violates international law, it violates the UN charter, it violates the constitution of Ukraine” US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned Russia the EU would take further action if it continues, as she called it, to “destabilise the situation in Ukraine.”
“If Russia continues its course of the last few weeks, it would not only be a catastophe for Ukraine, but I am convinced it will also harm Russia massively on an economic and a political level.”
Merkel has said that if Russia doesn’t begin negotiations with Kyiv the west was ready to impose sanctions. Gemany’s vice chancellor said the sanctions would not related to oil and gas but in other areas.