White House slams Russian action as dangerous, destabilizing

The White House on Sunday called Russia’s actions in Crimea “dangerous and destabilizing,” and said it will not recognize the referendum vote held in the region.

"As the United States and our allies have made clear, military intervention and violation of international law will bring increasing costs for Russia — not only due to measures imposed by the United States and our allies but also as a direct result of Russia’s own destabilizing actions," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement shortly after the polls closed. 

The administration called on others in the international community to impose costs on Russia. The White House warned that continued military intervention by Russia would only exacerbate the problem. 

“In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another,” Carney said. “We call on all members of the international community to continue to condemn such actions, to take concrete steps to impose costs, and to stand together in support of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The statement came as early exit polls from Crimea found that more than 90 percent of the vote was in favor of the region breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia. 

Russia invaded the peninsula, which holds a majority ethnic Russian population, and has maintained an increased troop presence there since late last month. The United States and other countries have consistently said the vote was a violation of the Ukraine constitution. 

“This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law,” Carney said. 

Carney said the vote Sunday was unnecessary because the people of Crimea would be able to make their voice heard during the May 25 presidential elections.