Obama says Crimea separation would violate law - WNCN: News, Weather

Obama says Crimea separation would violate law

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

President Barack Obama says a referendum for Ukraine's Crimea region to separate and become part of Russia would violate international law.

Local government officials in Crimea on Thursday set a March 16 for the referendum vote.

Obama told reporters at the White House that would also violate the Ukrainian constitution.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon says six U.S. F-15 fighter jets have arrived in Lithuania to bolster air patrols over the Baltics as the stand-off over Russia's military incursion into Ukraine continues. A U.S. warship is also now in the Black Sea to participate in long-planned exercises.

The fighter jets and 60 U.S. military personnel landed at Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania, adding to the four F-15s and 150 troops already there to do the air patrol mission. The additional fighters came from RAF Lakenheath.

The Navy destroyer USS Truxtun is participating in exercises with Romania and Bulgaria and is expected to be in the Black Sea for several days.

The U.S. and other Western nations are preparing sanctions against Russia for its recent move to send military troops into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also held a news conference Thursday afternoon after meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a Rome conference on Libya to continue discussions on Ukraine.

It is the second meeting in as many days between Kerry and Lavrov, who met in Paris on Wednesday to talk about the crisis in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.

Kerry is in Rome to participate in a conference on International Support to Libya, but he also met with his counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy and France to discuss the situation in Ukraine and to inform them of U.S. plans to sanction individuals and officials over events in Crimea.

This report compiled from AP and CBS News wire reports

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