Preliminary results in Sunday’s referendum on whether Ukraine’s Crimea region should join Russia or become an independent state show overwhelming support for Russia.
With 75% percent of the ballots counted, close to 96% of voters want to become part of that country, according to the Crimean Electoral Commission. An official had announced earlier that more than 80% of voters had cast ballots by the time polls closed at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET) Sunday.
Final results are expected later.
“President Obama emphasized that the Crimean ‘referendum,’ which violates the Ukrainian constitution and occurred under duress of Russian military intervention, would never be recognized by the United States and the international community,” it said. “He emphasized that Russia’s actions were in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in coordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions.”
Christopher Hill, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Iraq and Poland, described Sunday as a bad day for East-West relations.
“Putin has left our president with no choice. He needs to impose sanctions. I know Putin will come back and impose his own,” he said. “I think the end of this is going to be to cast Russia out into the cold. And the problem is, I don’t think Putin really cares. I think this is where he wants to take Russia.”
Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan are reported to have a combined 35 tons annually of Indium refining capacity.