Power says Crimea referendum risks escalation

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says a referendum on whether Crimea should remain part of Ukraine or join Russia would be illegal and "highly destabilizing, and would further polarize the situation and gravely enhance the risk of escalation."

Samantha Power said the United States still believes there's a diplomatic way out of the crisis in Ukraine "but every day, particularly with moves like that made today in Crimea, the risk of military escalation increases."

Lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared Thursday they want to join Russia and will hold a referendum March 16.

Power urged Russia to allow monitors from the U.N. and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe "to gather the facts on the ground so that they cannot continue to be twisted as we have seen."

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