Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised

Counter-threat comes as number of Russian troops in Crimea now stands at 30,000 as US warship heads to the Black Sea

Russia has pledged to retaliate against any sanctions imposed on it by the EU and US, further raising tensions in what has quickly become worst diplomatic crisis between Russia and the west since the end of the Cold War.

Russia on Friday accused the European Union of taking an “extremely unconstructive position” by freezing talks on easing visa barriers and suspending trade in response to the country's intervention in Ukraine.

“Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and threats” and will retaliate if sanctions are imposed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The comments came before reports that armed men had entered and taken control of a Ukrainian military post in Crimea on Friday, but shots had not been fired.

Russia now has 30,000 troops in Ukraine's Crimea region, Ukrainian border guards said on Friday, nearly twice the previous figure given by the government in Kiev.

In a coordinated effort, US President Barack Obama on Thursday night ordered sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian peoples involved in Moscow's military intervention in Crimea, including travel bans and freezing of their US assets.

Both the US and EU said sanctions will be furthered if Russia does not withdraw its forces back to their base in Crimea.

In an hour long phone call with Barack Obama shortly after the US President announced the punitive measures, Mr Putin brushed western threats aside, defending Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as consistent with international law.

A statement published on the Kremlin website early on Friday said that during the call, Mr Putin condemned the newly formed Kiev government as the result of an “anti-constitutional coup” and said Russia was “ unable to ignore” requests for protection from Ukraine's Russia-leaning east and south.

During the phone call, Mr Obama said the situation could be solved diplomatically in a way that addressed the interests of Russia, Ukraine and the international community, according to the White House.

A US warship is now en route to the Black Sea, in what the US military has described as a "routine" deployment scheduled well before the crisis in Ukraine.

Crimea is home to Russia's important Black Sea military base in Sevastopol. The US announced the deployment after the Pentagon unveiled plans to put more US fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics in an apparent bid to reassure eastern European allies.

Separately, Ukraine's interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Friday told the Crimean parliament that “no-one in the civilised world” will recognise its region wide referendum on joining the Russian Federation.

In a meeting with the head of the Crimean parliament earlier on Friday however, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament said Crimea would be welcomed as an equal part of Russia if the region votes to leave Ukraine.

Earlier this week MPs in the autonomous Crimea region abruptly voted to join the Russian Federation and announced a March 16 region wide referendum in order to strengthen their position.

The US and EU have claimed such referendum would be against the Ukrainian constitution and in violation of international law.

Mr Putin said earlier this week that Russia had no intention of annexing Crimea, but insisted its population has the right to determine the region's status in the referendum.

Wading into the debate, China, which often stands with Russia on many global issues, said on Friday that sanctions are not the best way to resolve the crisis.

US officials said a list of people targeted by the sanctions had not yet been drawn up but added that the Russian President would not be one of them.

The order targets any assets held in the US by “individuals and entities” responsible for the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, threatening its territorial integrity or seeking to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine, without authorisation from the government in Kiev.

Mr Obama, appearing in the White House press room hours after signing the order, said the US sanctions were meant to impose costs on Russia for its actions.

Russia's Foreign Ministry meanwhile has branded NATO's decision to curb its corporation with Russia as a “biased and prejudiced approach”.

Read more: EU leaders race in vain to find diplomatic solution
West has let Russian corruption destabilise Europe
Could Russia Today turn you into a Putin propagandist?
Crimea MPs vote to become part of Russia
Femen protesters hold topless protest in Crimea

“We see as extremely dangerous attempts to bring in the 'NATO factor' to Ukraine, where the situation is complex and delicate as it is, as it creates additional tension and undermines the prospects for settling the situation,” the ministry said in a statement.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup