Kerry: 'Serious' consequences if Crimea votes to secede

March 13, 2014 at 4:16 PM

WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate panel Thursday Russia faces "serious" consequences" if the Crimean referendum is held.

In testimony before the Appropriations Committee, he said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin were meeting in Sochi Thursday to discuss the situation. Kerry said he talked to Lavrov on the telephone but does not know what course his Russian counterpart plans to take during their meeting Friday in London.

The European Union and United States plan a "serious series of steps" if Crimea votes Sunday to secede from Ukraine, Kerry said. He said a hastily scheduled vote, held while thousands of Russian troops are in Crimea, cannot be considered valid.

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