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President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States does not accept a planned referendum on whether Crimea should be part of Russia after talks with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
"We completely reject a referendum patched together in a few weeks with Russian military personnel basically taking over Crimea," Obama told reporters after meeting with the visiting Ukrainian leader at the White House.
Obama reiterated that the referendum in which residents of Crimea will vote on whether it can split off from Ukraine and join Russia is contrary to international law and the Ukrainian constitution.
Yatsenyuk, sitting beside Obama in the Oval Office, said, "We will fight for our sovereignty. And we will never surrender."
Ukraine is "a good friend" and partner of Russia but "is and will be a part of the Western world," Yatsenyuk said.
Obama urged Russia to suspend movements aimed at annexing Crimea, saying the United States and the international community will be forced to "apply a cost" to Russia's encroachments on Ukraine.
The U.S. government continued to promote bids to settle the Crimean crisis through dialogue the same day, deciding to send Secretary of State John Kerry to London for another round of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday.
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