United States President Barack Obama has vehemently rejected the Russian bid for a "slapdash" referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region to merge it with Russia.
"We completely reject a referendum patched together in a few weeks with Russian military personnel basically taking over Crimea. We reject its legitimacy. It is contrary to international law. It is contrary to the Ukrainian constitution," Obama told reporters following his meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
"I know that we have heard from the Russian Federation this notion that these kinds of decisions are often made in other places, and they have even analogised it to Scotland or other situations of that sort," he said.
"In each of those cases that they have cited, decisions were made by a national government through a long, lengthy, deliberative process. It's not something that happens in a few days, and it's not something that happens with an outside army essentially taking over the region," Obama said.
"The issue now is whether or not Russia is able to militarily dominate a region of somebody else's country, engineer a slapdash referendum, and ignore not only the Ukrainian constitution but a Ukrainian government that includes parties that are historically in opposition with each
other -- including the party of the previous president," he said.
"So, we will not recognise, certainly, any referendum that goes forward. My hope is that as a consequence of diplomatic efforts over the next several days there will be a rethinking of the process that's been put forward," said the US president.
Image: US President Barack Obama with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House ' Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters