Washington: Strongly condemning the Russian military action in Ukraine`s province of Crimea, where people have voted to be part of Russia, the White House on Wednesday said that Moscow would have to face the cost of such a move.
The US, which days ago had announced a series of sanctions against Russia including several close aides of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is working to announce more such actions, as part of its efforts to increase economic, financial and political pressure on Russia, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at his daily news conference.
The US and its allies, he said, have made it clear to Russia that there are legal alternatives available to address its interests in Ukraine, which Moscow has not availed so far.
"We strongly condemn Russia`s use of force in Crimea. The Russian military is directly responsible for any casualties that its forces, whether they be regular uniformed troops or irregulars without insignias, inflict on Ukrainian military members in Crimea," Carney said.
"Reports that a Ukrainian military officer was killed yesterday are particularly concerning and belie President Putin`s claim that Russia`s military intervention in Crimea has brought security to that part of Ukraine," he said.
Carney said the continued efforts by Russian forces to seize Ukrainian military installations are creating a dangerous situation.
"We condemn these actions. Russia should immediately begin discussions with the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety of Ukrainian forces in the Crimean region of Ukraine," he added.
Diplomacy, he said, remains the only acceptable means of resolving this situation, and the US is prepared to impose further costs on Russia for its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"The sanctions that have been announced already -- the designations that we have made public are the beginning of the actions we can take under the authorities provided by the executive orders," he warned.
"You can expect that more action will be taken under those authorities. So Russia has incurred costs already, has caused the US and our European allies and Japan to take action because of what Russia has done already that will cause costs to be incurred by Russia now and in the future.
"But there will be additional responses under the authorities provided by the executive orders. And we`re working on those now," the White House Press Secretary said.
The executive order signed by President Barack Obama recently provide a great deal of flexibility and an expansive range of potential designations for sanctions, including Russian government officials, the arms sector of Russia, and individuals who, while not holding positions within the Russian government, have influence over or provide material support to senior Russian government officials.
Referring to the actions taken by the European Union as well as Japan, Carney said the US is coordinating with its allies and partners on how they will react further to further transgressions by Russia.
"It remains a simple fact that the so-called referendum and so-called annexation violate Ukrainian law, violate the Ukrainian constitution, are illegal under the United Nations charter, and have not been and will not be recognised by the US and other members of the international community," he said.
"So we will continue to make clear that this kind of behaviour, you know, will result in costs to Russia and isolation to Russia. And Russia will need to assess the impact of those costs and understand that they will grow more severe and compound over time," he said.
"There is a reasonable alternative here available that allows Russia to ensure that its legitimate interests in Ukraine are accounted for and protected, that ethnic Russians in Ukraine are assured of their rights in that country through international observers and monitors," Carney said.