LONDON - Britain on Monday said it was still treating Crimea as part of the Ukraine despite Sunday's referendum which delivered a 96 per cent vote in favour of Russian rule on the peninsula.
In a statement issued after European Union foreign ministers mets in Brussels, British Foreign Secretary William Hague stressed that "for the UK and her allies the Crimea remains part of Ukraine."
"We are witnessing a clear attempt to pave the way for the annexation of part of the sovereign territory of an independent European state, through military force and an illegal and illegitimate referendum," he added.
"The UK calls again on Russia to enter into dialogue with Ukraine and with the international community to resolve this crisis.
"Continuing to ignore those calls will bring serious consequences for Russia," he warned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signalled he has no intention of turning back on what he describes as his defence of ethnic Russians who - according to Moscow - have come under increasing attack from Ukrainian ultra-nationalists since last month's ouster in Kiev of a pro-Kremlin regime by a far more nationalist but Western-leaning team.
Hague earlier welcomed moves by the United States and the EU to target Putin's inner circle with economic sanctions.
He called it "an important statement of European unity and resolve on this question, coinciding... with the measures taken by the United States."