US demands Russian troops withdraw from Crimea

US demands Russian troops withdraw from Crimea

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard outside an Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye on March 13, 2014. "Putin = Dracula," "Putin = Hitler," "Putin, get out": posters and caricatures attacking the Russian leader have multiplied over the last couple of weeks on the Maidan, Kiev's protest tent-city. As Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, protesters have revelled in making comparisons between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler, combining their names in slogans that conclude that "Putler has gone mad." AFP PHOTO/ Filippo MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 13 at 6:30 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says more than 20,000 Russian troops are in Crimea before a referendum on Sunday that could separate the peninsula from Ukraine and merge it with Russia.

Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States and other nations "call for the suspension of this referendum, which cannot be regarded as legitimate, especially against the background of foreign military intervention."

Power said "Russian forces must return to their bases."

She said the United States is proposing a Security Council resolution on the Crimea crisis and that "Russia has to want a diplomatic solution."

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant added that a "free and fair referendum cannot possibly be held where voters are casting their ballots under the barrel of a gun."

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