Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken insisted today that Russia will pay costs that “would increase significantly” if next week’s Crimean referendum ends with secession from the Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
Blinken went on to say that the US would never accept the results of the referendum and that “most of the world” will not consider Crimea independent either.
President Obama insists that referendums on secession are illegal unless they are endorsed by the democratically elected government of their ruling power they are trying to break off from. Since Ukraine’s newly installed government wasn’t elected in the first place, it isn’t clear how their objection precludes the vote.
US officials have threatened major sanctions against Russia if they annex Crimea, though since the US has only trivial business ties with Russia to start with, the impact is expected to be very limited.