By Mike Collett-White and Ronald Popeski SIMFEROPOL/KIEV (Reuters) - Russian state media said Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia on Sunday, as Kiev accused Moscow of pouring forces into the peninsula and warned separatist leaders "the ground will burn under their feet". Caught in an East-West crisis reminiscent of the Cold War, Kiev said Russia's build-up of forces in the Black Sea region was in "crude violation" of an international treaty, and announced plans to arm and train 20,000 members of a newly-created National Guard to defend the nation. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Moscow that Washington would not accept the outcome of the vote, which is likely to favor union with Russia for a region which has a Russian-speaking majority. The White House also warned Moscow to expect sanctions while foreign ministers from the European Union, which has major trade ties with Russia, will decided on possible similar action in Brussels on Monday.
NEW YORK (AP) — St. Patrick's Day festivities are in full swing with the usual merriment of bagpipes and beer, but political tensions lingered in the northeastern United States, where city leaders will be conspicuously absent from parades over gay rights issues.
The United States Sunday strongly rejected a vote in Crimea on breaking away from Ukraine, and called Russian actions in the crisis "dangerous and destabilizing." "This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. The White House statement came as Crimea's pro-Moscow authorities announced that exit polls showed a 93 percent vote in favor of becoming part of Russia.