US President Barack Obama has warned Vladimir Putin that the international community will never recognise the Crimea referendum to secede from Ukraine and the West is prepared to impose "additional costs" on Russia for its actions.
Obama, in a telephonic conversation with Putin Sunday after the people of Crimea - a province of Ukraine - overwhelmingly voted to merge with Russia, said the Crimea "referendum" not only violated the Ukrainian constitution but it also occurred under duress of the Russian military.
"He emphasised that Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in coordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
The final results of the referendum in Crimea showed that 97 per cent of voters supported leaving Ukraine to join Russia.
Obama in his telephonic conversation underlined that there remains a clear path for resolving this crisis diplomatically, in a way that addresses the interests of both Russia and the people of Ukraine, he said.
The US President noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take concrete steps that would allow for the de-escalation of the crisis, particularly as it prepares for elections this spring and undertakes constitutional reform.
He asked Russia to support the immediate deployment of international monitors to help prevent acts of violence by any groups.
Obama reiterated to Putin that a diplomatic resolution cannot be achieved while Russian military forces continue their incursions into Ukrainian territory and that the large-scale Russian military exercises on Ukraine's borders are only exacerbating the tension, the White House said.
Obama said that Secretary of State John Kerry continues to be ready to work together with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Ukrainian government to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
Earlier, Carney rejected the Crimea "referendum". "No decisions should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian government. Moreover, this vote was not necessary. The Ukrainian government has made clear its willingness to discuss increased autonomy for Crimea, and the presidential elections planned for May 25 provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country," Carney said.