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

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.