U.S. says Russian decision not to ease Ukraine crisis 'regrettable'

WASHINGTON Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:23am IST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia's failure to take steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine is "regrettable" and the United States is ready to respond quickly following a referendum planned for Sunday on whether Ukraine's Crimea region should join Russia, the White House said on Friday.

"We have obviously not gotten to a situation where Russia has chosen to de-escalate, where Russia has chosen a path of resolving the situation peacefully and through diplomacy. That is regrettable. We will have to see how the next several days unfold," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a briefing.

"We stand ready to respond should the referendum go forward on Sunday," Carney said. Asked how soon the response would come, he said, "I think without putting too fine a point on it, I'd say quickly."

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Chris Reese)

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