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Ukraine's new prime minister predicted that only a handful of pariah states would accept the results of a looming referendum in Crimea over whether to secede from the country and join Russia.
"It is absolutely and entirely illegitimate," Arseniy Yatsenyuk told CNBC in an interview Friday. "No one will recognize this, possibly except North Korea, probably Syria or Venezuela."
He added: "I want to be very clear: Crimea, was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine. No concession. Full stop."
Already struggling with Moscow’s effective takeover of the strategic peninsula over the weekend, Ukraine’s government and its Western backers are now trying to stop the country from splitting after the Crimean parliament voted to secede and join Russia on Thursday.
Crimean politicians were already drawing up detailed plans for the referendum on whether to stay part of Ukraine or join Russia. Crimea is the only region of Ukraine to feature a Russian-speaking majority.
Pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted last month by protesters furious that he had spurned a trade agreement with Europe in favor of closer ties with Russia.