The interim prime minister of Ukraine has told CNBC that he does not want to launch a military response to Russia's occupation of Crimea, one day after the region voted to join the Russian Federation in a disputed referendum.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk was speaking after Russian news outlets reported on Sunday that 95.5 percent of Crimeans voted to break away from Ukraine. Russia's lower house of parliament stated that it would pass legislation allowing Crimea to join the nation in the "very near future."
(Live blog: Latest developments in Crimea crisis)
The European Union responded on Monday by announcing that it would impose travel bans and asset freezes on 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials, while U.S. President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on 11 Russians and Ukrainians blamed for Russia's military incursion into Crimea, including two top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We have two options. The first is one is military, as Russians started the military invasion, the response would be the military one, right?" Yatsenyuk told CNBC. "The second option is diplomatic, even despite the fact that Russians launched a military attack on Ukraine, we can negotiate and try to find the diplomatic solution."
He continued: "Do I support the military option? No. Does someone support in the world - except Russia - the military option? No."
(Read more: President Obama imposes sanctions over Ukraine)
Yatsenyuk said that Ukraine still believed Russia would cooperate. However, he warned that if Russia was to move further into Ukraine's territory, it would be the "duty of every citizen of my country to protect and to defend its sovereignty."
Yatsenyuk added that Ukraine had no real capacity to withstand a Russian invasion and - despite the sanctions announced today by Europe and the U.S. - he expressed frustration at the lack of a common voice from the West and the ease with which Putin was able to impose himself on Crimea.
"How could it happen, in the 21st century, that one country with nuclear status - with an overwhelming military presence in Europe - just decided to grab the territory off an independent and sovereign country and there was no response in the world?" he asked.
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He added that the U.S. and EU should speak with one voice in order to stop what he saw as Putin's desire to rebuild the former Soviet Union.
Potential Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko also said he favored a diplomatic solution to the situation, and insisted that Crimea was not yet lost to Russia.
"We will do our best to return Crimea back to Ukraine," he told CNBC.
However presidential candidate and former world-champion boxer Vitali Klitchko took a more pessimistic view about Russia's intentions in Ukraine - arguing that Russia wanted to take control of the whole of the country – not just Crimea.
"Russians have the goal to control Kiev - to control Ukraine," he told CNBC. "Somebody who doesn't control the capital of the country doesn't control the whole country. (It's their) main goal...We will do everything to defend our unity and the independence of our country."
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