Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the U.S. would impose sanctions over a planned referendum in the Crimean region to secede from Ukraine, conceding that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not change his position before Sunday's vote.
“If the referendum takes place there will be some sanctions,” Kerry told reporters after six hours of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that failed to resolve the crisis. “There will be some response, let me put it that way."
Kerry insisted that the international community would not recognize the results of the vote, saying it violated Ukraine's constitutional sovereignty.
And with the last-second talks unable to bridge the divide between Western nations and Russia, the U.S. is now preparing a package of economic punishments against Russia, likely as early as Monday.
Kerry declined to get into the specifics of such sanctions.
“The foreign minister made it clear that President Putin isn't prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum Sunday,” Kerry explained.
For his part, Lavrov said in a separate briefing with reporters that that the U.S. and Russia did not share the same vision for how to approach Crimea. Lavrov insisted that Russia did not intend to invade southeast Ukraine, but Russia has also refused to recognize its military movement into Crimea.
The Crimean regional parliament has already voted to secede and join the Russian Federation, and the broader population, which mainly aligns with Russian interests, is expected to do the same.
In recent days, Russian troops have mobilized along the border with Ukraine and started military exercises in an apparent show of force.