Obama: Crimea referendum would 'violate international law'

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US President Barack Obama condemned a proposed referendum in Crimea to join Russia, saying it would “violate international law” and that any decision on Crimea “must include the Ukrainian government.”

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said US sanctions were aimed at punishing Moscow for its intervention in Ukraine.

“This morning I signed an executive order that authorises sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders,” said the president.

Meanwhile, EU leaders agreed to suspend visa and investment talks with Russia in reaction to recent events in Crimea.

They said they would freeze Russian assets and withdraw from a G8 summit if Russia does not reverse course.

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