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Published: Wednesday March 19, 2014 MYT 4:05:02 AM
Updated: Wednesday March 19, 2014 MYT 4:05:02 AM

Russia's Lavrov tells Kerry Crimea sanctions 'unacceptable'

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Western sanctions over the Crimea dispute were "unacceptable" and threatened consequences, Moscow said on Tuesday.

The two senior diplomats spoke by telephone hours after President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty in the Kremlin making Ukraine's Crimea peninsula part of Russia, despite an outcry from Kiev and the West.

"(Crimea) republic residents made their democratic choice in line with the international law and the U.N. charter, which Russia accepts and respects," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said, "while the sanctions introduced by the United States and the European Union are unacceptable and will not remain without consequences."

On Monday, the United States and the EU imposed sanctions on a handful of officials from Russia and Ukraine accused of involvement in Moscow's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, most of whose 2 million residents are ethnic Russians.

Lavrov's remarks echoed comments earlier on Tuesday by Putin who said Western attempts to frighten Russia with sanctions would be viewed as an act of aggression, and that Moscow would retaliate.

Kerry reiterated Washington's position that the referendum and the takeover of Crimea were "illegal" and "unacceptable", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"We don't accept them and there will continue to be costs and consequences," she told a briefing. "We are continuing to prepare additional sanctions and we haven't taken options off the table."

(Reporting By Alexei Anishchuk and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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