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Russia and the West have reached a standoff over the fate of Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian region with a narrow ethnic Russian majority that has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new central government in Kiev, reported RIA Novosti.
The Crimean parliament declared independence Tuesday ahead of a popular vote Sunday on seceding from Ukraine and becoming part of Russia. Authorities in Kiev and international leaders have condemned the referendum as illegitimate and accused Moscow of fomenting unrest in order to annex Crimea.
The Kremlin press service said in an English-language statement that Putin and Ban discussed “the situation in Ukraine, including the referendum to be held on March 16.”
“Putin emphasized that the decision to hold the referendum is in line with the provisions of international law and with the UN Charter,” the Kremlin statement reads.
Ban told reporters in New York later in the day that the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate and there was "a great risk of dangerous, downward spiral."
He also urged Russia and Ukraine not to take "hasty measures" that "may impact the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
The UN chief said that peaceful solution was still an option.
Russia and the West have reached a standoff over the fate of Crimea, which has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new central government in Kiev following last month’s revolution.