Members of the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Russia's "act of aggression in invading Crimea." The resolution said the Crimean referendum on accession to Russia is illegal and the Kremlin's policies in the region are a direct threat to the security of the European Union.
The resolution reminds Russia that Crimea is obliged under Ukraine's constitution to hold referendums only on local matters and is prohibited from taking action that would modify national boundaries.
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, was forced to flee the country following demonstrations after his November decision to move away from the EU in order to protect economic ties with Russia.
A post-Yanukovych Ukraine is now moving closer to signing formal association agreements with the EU. Ukraine is a former Soviet republic.
Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Alexei Likhachev said Thursday any sanctions imposed on Moscow for its policies on Ukraine would be met with equal diplomatic force, the state-supported Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
"Our sanctions will be, of course, symmetrical," he was quoted as saying.