Mar.6 - Crimea's parliament votes to join Russia, drawing a sharp riposte from U.S. President Barack Obama. Sarah Toms reports.
A dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukraine's Crimea. Pro-Moscow forces seized the mainly ethnic Russian region after Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted. Now Crimea's parliament has voted to join Russia and a referendum has been set in 10 days. The move drew a sharp response from US President Barack Obama. SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: . The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders. The US has issued visa restrictions on officials responsible for the military intervention and a freezing of assets. The announcement came after crisis talks in Rome with EU ministers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavror and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, JOHN KERRY, SAYING: "And with the Ukrainian view in mind, and with the input of all of our allies in the European community, we have made suggestions to Foreign Minister Lavrov which he is currently taking personally to President Putin, in Sochi, I believe, and we have agreed to stay in close touch in order to see if there is a way forward to try to get to the negotiating table with the parties necessary to be able to stabilise this." But as the talks continue, tensions remain high. Moscow regards the new Ukrainian government as illegitimate and says pro-Russian Yanukovich is still its rightful leader. As the Crimean parliament voted to join Russia, outside clashes broke out out between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian supporters....in a country divided and on the edge of war.