Washington, Europe denounce move for Crimea referendum

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — 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 ten 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.”

President Barack Obama says the vote would violate international law — as well as Ukraine’s constitution.

And 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.

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