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Hope dwindles in stopping vote to split Ukraine; West prepares sanctions against Russia

  • Kerry State Budget Ukraine-1.jpg

    Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 13, 2014, prior to Kerry's testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Related Programs hearing on the State Departments fiscal 2015 budget. In his opening remarks Kerry spoke about Ukraine and other current foreign relation issues. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (The Associated Press)

  • Kerry State Budget Ukraine-2.jpg

    Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 13, 2014, prior to Kerry's testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Related Programs hearing on the State Department's fiscal 2015 budget. In his opening remarks Kerry spoke about Ukraine and other current foreign relation issues. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (The Associated Press)

With little hope of halting a vote to separate a strategic Ukraine peninsula from the rest of the country, the West is readying itself to impose harsh sanctions on Russia as soon as Monday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to London on Friday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (SEHR'-gay LAHV'-rahf) in a last-minute bid to stave off a new chapter in the East-West crisis over Ukraine.

On Sunday, Ukraine's pro-Russian Crimea region will vote whether to secede, and perhaps join Russia, in anger over new leaders in Kiev who seek to forge stronger economic ties with Europe.

Officials and experts say the Crimea vote seems all but a done deal — and will almost certainly result in breaking away from Ukraine.