(Washington, DC)  --  President Obama insists the future of Ukraine must be decided by the people of Ukraine.  In a White House statement, Obama said Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected.  Over the weekend, a Kremlin-backed referendum to join Russia was overwhelmingly approved by voters in Crimea.  The President signed an executive order expanding U.S. sanctions against several Russian officials involved in Russia's actions in Ukraine. 

The U.S. and allies are rejecting the Crimea referendum.  The latest U.S. sanctions aim to impose costs on individuals who "wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine."  The President's executive order covers economic sanctions and travel restrictions.  Obama insisted there is still a diplomatic path open to Russia.  He warned, however, that further sanctions will be imposed by the U.S. and allies if Russia does not back out of Crimea.