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Obama raises stakes in Crimean standoff with Putin

Obama raises stakes in Crimean standoff with Putin


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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is raising the stakes in the West's standoff with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He's imposing sanctions against Moscow and rejecting plans for a referendum on the future of Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea.

European leaders are putting in place their own measures but are split over how forcefully to follow America's lead. That could blunt the pressure on Putin to withdraw Russian troops.

The end result could help define Europe's post-Cold War order.

Obama outlined his intent Thursday not to willingly let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine.

He slapped new visa restrictions on Russians and others destabilizing Ukraine's new government.

And he declared illegal the plan from Putin's allies in Crimea for a March 16 referendum on seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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BRADLEY KLAPPER - Associated Press, LARA JAKES

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