Breaking: Obama Rejects Crimea Referendum
President Barack Obama rejected a proposed Mar. 16 referendum on the future of the Crimea, which was approved 78-0 earlier Thursday by the Crimean parliament. "The proposed referendum on the future of the Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law," Obama said at the White House.
Obama noted that he had already signed an executive order applying sanctions and visa restrictions to individuals who were connected to violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He said that his administration had "mobilized the international community" and praised "international unity" on the issue.
The "path to de-escalation," he said, was to allow international monitors into the Crimea to ensure that the rights of ethnic Russians were being upheld, and that agreements protecting Russian naval bases were being honored. He added that the U.S. stood behind a package of international financial assistance to the Ukraine.