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Published: Monday March 10, 2014 MYT 12:00:03 AM
Updated: Monday March 10, 2014 MYT 12:01:23 AM

Merkel tells Putin Crimea referendum illegal

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talk as they watch a fragment from the ballet "Ruslan and Lyudmila" during the G20 Summit in Peterhof near St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Klimentyev

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talk as they watch a fragment from the ballet "Ruslan and Lyudmila" during the G20 Summit in Peterhof near St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Klimentyev

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation on Sunday a referendum planned for March 16 on Crimea joining Russia violated Ukraine's constitution and was against international law.

She also regretted that there had not been any progress on forming an "international contact group" which could find a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine, the German government said in a written statement. "She pointed out the urgency of finally coming to a substantial result on this."

On Thursday, Merkel said if no international contact group was formed in the coming days and no progress was made in negotiations with Russia, it was possible the European Union would impose on Russia further sanctions like travel restrictions and freezing financial accounts.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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