Vladimir Putin has told Angela Merkel an upcoming referendum in Crimea is in accordance with international law.
In a phone call between the two leaders, Putin said the actions of the Crimean parliament were aimed at protecting the legitimate interests of the population in the peninsula.
A statement from the Kremlin added that, while Putin and Merkel differed in their view on the situation in Ukraine, they were agreed that a de-escalation of tensions should be achieved as soon as possible.
Barack Obama warned Russia that the West will be forced to apply a cost to Moscow if it fails to change course in its dispute with Ukraine.
The ballot paper that the people of Crimea will use in Sunday's referendum was published today
Vitali Klitschko's visit to the eastern city of Donetsk is clearly an attempt to try to ease the divisions with Ukraine.