A woman casts her ballot at a polling station during the Crimean referendum, in Sevastopol, Ukraine, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Residents of Ukraine's Crimea region are voting in a contentious referendum on whether to split off and seek annexation by Russia. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

White House urges Putin to back down in Crimea

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says that if Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't back down in Crimea, he will face penalties from the West that will hurt the Russian economy and diminish Moscow's influence in the world.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer also says supporting the new Ukrainian government "in every way possible" is at the top of the Obama's administration's priority list.

But action on $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine is on hold because Congress is on a break now.

Pfeiffer tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that Putin has a choice: "Is he going to continue to further isolate himself, further hurt his economy, further diminish Russian influence in the world, or is he going to do the right thing?"

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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