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US questions legitimacy of Crimea referendum

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is questioning the legitimacy of a referendum in Crimea on whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia instead.

A senior administration official says Ukraine's "legitimate government" must be involved in any decisions about Crimea's future. The official says actions that do not include the government in Kiev are violations of international law.

Crimea is a pro-Russian area of Ukraine. Lawmakers there voted unanimously Thursday to hold a March 16 referendum to decide their allegiance. Russian forces moved into the Crimea peninsula last week after Ukraine's Moscow-backed president fled Kiev.

The official was not authorized to discuss the developments in Crimea by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
 

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