Publishe Date: 4:51 PM - 3/16/2014 | Print

Russia says referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea legal

Politics - Russia says the secession referendum in Ukraine’s southern Crimea region is legal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Sunday that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry during a phone conversation on Saturday that the vote in Crimea is legal and that it complies with international law.

The statement said Lavrov “reiterated that the Crimean referendum fully complies with international law and the United Nations Charter and the results should be the starting point in determining the future of the peninsula.”

The Russian foreign minister also stated that Ukrainian authorities in Kiev should curb violence by ultra-nationalist and radical groups against Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population in Crimea.

Lavrov and Kerry, who met in London a few days ago, failed to reach an agreement on how to end the crisis in Ukraine due to what Lavrov called “no common vision” on the issue.

Tension erupted between the West and Russia after Crimea authorities said they will hold a referendum on Sunday on whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

The initial results of the referendum are expected to be published during the night or on Monday.

Lavrov had previously argued that Crimea should be treated similar to Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

The Russian minister said if Kosovo was a special case for the West, Crimea is also a special case for Russia.

The United States and the European Union, which support the new Ukrainian government, have rejected the Crimea vote as “illegal” and threatened Russia with sanctions over its stance on Ukraine. Russia says such measures are counterproductive.

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