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Obama Says Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

Reported: Mar. 6, 2014 1:46 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- President Barack Obama said a referendum for Ukraine's Crimea region to separate and become part of Russia would violate international law.

Local government officials in Crimea on Thursday set a March 16 for the referendum vote.

Obama told reporters at the White House that would also violate the Ukrainian constitution.

The Ukraine appears to be headed toward a possible breakup after lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared that they want to join Russia, and that they will put the decision to voters in 10 days.

Russian lawmakers, meanwhile, pushed a measure that would make possible a handover of Crimea.

The action in Crimea's parliament was essentially a declaration of independence from Ukraine. The parliament said the Crimean people -- 60 percent of whom are ethnic Russian -- will decide whether they want to be a part of Russia.

In Kiev, Ukraine's prime minister quickly denounced the action. Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the "so-called referendum" has "no legal grounds at all."

At an emergency EU summit in Brussels, a senior Western diplomat promised that EU leaders would make it clear that the referendum won't be recognized. The EU later announced that the bloc would suspend talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and on a visa deal, and that it would consider further steps if Russia doesn't quickly open meaningful dialogue on Ukraine.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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