US President Barack Obama says the US and its allies would be forced to impose additional sanctions on Russia if it shows signs of moving to annex Crimea.
Obama met Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House on Wednesday.
Obama said Washington rejects Sunday’s planned referendum in Crimea on its joining in Russia. He called it a violation of international law and Ukraine’s constitution.
He said the vote was arranged in the few weeks since Russia’s military moved into the southern Ukrainian region.
Obama said the international community would “be forced to apply a cost” if Moscow fails to change course in its dispute with Ukraine.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk asked for support from the United States and EU nations, saying Ukraine will never surrender. He said his country will do all it can to protect its stability and independence.
The leaders of the Group of 7 countries including Japan and the US earlier issued a statement denouncing the move to annex Crimea as a clear violation of international law. They are threatening further action against Russia if it presses ahead with its plans.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London on Friday.