March 17 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it has not been an easy decision to impose sanctions on Russia for a referendum in Crimea. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there was nothing easy about the decision to impose sanctions on Russia. After the vote in Crimea, the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials involved in the seizure of Crimea. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "I think it was a decision that nobody took lightly. It wasn't our aim. We wanted talks and a diplomatic solution, but the clear violation of international law yesterday with the so-called referendum meant we had to take this step and I am glad that Europe showed such unity." Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday recognizing the Crimea region as a sovereign state. The move heightened the most serious East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. Putin attended a Paralympic event Monday, but did not speak about Crimea. On Tuesday he addresses a special joint session of Russia's State Duma, which could take a decision on annexation of the majority ethnic-Russian region.