Kerry: We won’t recognise Crimea independence vote

Washington and the international community won’t recognise the outcome of tomorrow’s referendum in Crimea on seceding from Ukraine, US secretary of State John Kerry said after six hours of talks with Russia’s foreign minister.

Kerry: We won’t recognise Crimea independence vote

His comments came after Russian foreign minister Lavrov acknowledged there was no “common vision” between the two nations over the crisis.

Tomorrow’s vote on Crimea — Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea peninsula of 2 million people — is expected to back secession and, potentially, annexation with Russia. The new Kiev government believes the vote is illegal, but Moscow says it does not recognise the new government as legitimate.

The US and EU say the Crimean vote violates Ukraine’s constitution and international law. If Crimea votes to secede, the US and European Union plan to slap sanctions as early as Monday on Russian officials and businesses accused of escalating the crisis and undermining Ukraine’s new government.

Kerry said he had put forward several ideas on how to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and address Russian concerns, but that Lavrov made clear Putin would not take any decisions until after the vote.

Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia will “respect the results of the referendum” in Crimea.

European and US leaders have repeatedly urged Moscow to pull back its troops in Crimea and stop encouraging local militias there who are hyping the vote as a choice between re-establishing generations of ties with Russia or returning to echoes of fascism from Ukraine’s World War II era.

While the Russian Foreign Ministry engaged in more sabre-rattling yesterday by warning that it reserves the right to intervene in eastern Ukraine in defence of ethnic Russians who it claims are under threat, Lavrov denied any plans to send troops into eastern Ukraine.

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