Putin tells U.N. chief that Crimean vote entirely legal

Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a Security Council meeting in Sochi March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a Security Council …

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Friday rejected Western accusations that a referendum on whether Ukraine's Crimea region should join Russia would be illegal, making clear the vote would go ahead as planned on Sunday.

In a telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Putin "underscored that the decision to conduct (the referendum) fully corresponds to the norms of international law and the U.N. Charter", the Kremlin said.

The pro-Russian politicians who took control of Crimea after the ouster of Ukraine's president late last month have expressed confidence that a large majority of people in the region would vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Ban told reporters at the United Nations that he and Putin had "discussed the need to work towards a durable and fair political solution" in Ukraine, and that they had agreed to stay in touch.

"The situation and emotions have been hardened over the forthcoming referendum in Crimea," Ban said.

"What I am concerned (about) is that there should be no such hasty measures and decisions which may impact the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. That has been my consistent message in accordance with the charter provisions."

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom at the United Nations; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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