French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday that sanctions against Russia over Ukraine could be imposed as early as this week if Moscow fails to respond to a proposition designed to calm the crisis, Reuters reported.
Fabius told the radio station France Inter that a referendum in the Crimea region on joining Russia set for March 16 was illegitimate and that the annexation of the region by Russia would be illegal.
"The only legitimate vote is that of May 25 for the president of the republic in Ukraine. The vote of March 16 has no legitimacy," Fabius said.
As a result of protests in Ukraine, the country's President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted on Feb. 22. The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has approved the new composition of the parliament and is preparing to hold pre-term elections.
On Feb. 26 several thousand people participating in two rallies gathered in front of Supreme Council of Crimea. After the escalation of the protest actions in Crimea, the Federation Council supported President Vladimir Putin's appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine pending "the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country".
Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the U.S., as well as chairman of the European Council and the chairman of the European Commission made a joint statement condemning Russia's position on Ukraine and canceled the preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi, scheduled for June 2014.