MOSCOW, March 14 President Vladimir Putin on
Friday rejected Western accusations that a referendum on whether
Ukraine's Crimea region should join Russia would be illegal,
making clear the vote would go ahead as planned on Sunday.
In a telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon,
Putin "underscored that the decision to conduct (the referendum)
fully corresponds to the norms of international law and the U.N.
Charter", the Kremlin said.
The pro-Russian politicians who took control of Crimea after
the ouster of Ukraine's president late last month have expressed
confidence that a large majority of people in the region would
vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Ban told reporters at the United Nations that he and Putin
had "discussed the need to work towards a durable and fair
political solution" in Ukraine, and that they had agreed to stay
"The situation and emotions have been hardened over the
forthcoming referendum in Crimea," Ban said.
"What I am concerned (about) is that there should be no such
hasty measures and decisions which may impact the sovereignty,
unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. That has been my
consistent message in accordance with the charter provisions."