US condemns Russian move to annex Ukraine's Crimea

US condemns Russian move to annex Ukraine's Crimea
The West is concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin may push further into the former Soviet republic.

WASHINGTON - The White House on Tuesday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and said it was preparing a fresh round of sanctions in response to the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. "More is coming," said White House spokesman Jay Carney, a day after the United States slapped sanctions on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, penalties that some critics said did not go far enough to get Moscow's attention.

As the United States and European allies seek coordinated responses to pressure Russia, President Barack Obama and the leaders of the other Group of Seven economies scheduled a meeting in The Hague next week to discuss Ukraine on the fringes of an already scheduled nuclear security summit.

The White House said in a statement the G7 meeting would focus on further steps that the grouping may take to respond to developments and to support Ukraine.

Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone about Ukraine and a White House statement said both leaders agreed to stress to Putin that a diplomatic path remains for resolving the crisis.

They agreed it was vital to send international monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations to southern and eastern Ukraine immediately, the White House said. Ukraine's prime minister has expressed fears Russia might now seek to move into eastern Ukraine.

Leaders of the G7 - representing the United States, Germany, Britain, Italy, France, Canada and Japan - have already suspended preparations for a June meeting in Sochi, Russia, at which Putin would have served as the host.

The Sochi summit is now deemed unlikely to take place and there is even speculation the G7 could move to expel Russia from the G8 after Putin signed a treaty making Crimea part of Russia, an outcome that Washington condemned and said would never be accepted as legal.

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