MOSCOW, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Russian, British and German leaders have expressed their common interest in de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine despite existing dissent, the Kremlin press service said Sunday.
"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin, (British Prime Minister David) Cameron and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel continued the discussion of an extremely complicated sociopolitical situation in Ukraine, as well as Crimea's referendum, set for March 16," it said.
"The parties expressed common interest in the earliest possible de-escalation of tensions and normalization of the situation," the Kremlin said.
The steps taken by the legitimate Crimean authorities were based on international law and aim to protect the legitimate interests of the population of Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic that has become the epicenter of ongoing political crisis in that country, it quoted Putin as saying.
Putin said the current Ukrainian authorities were "doing nothing to curb the ultra-nationalist and radical forces' outrages committed in Kiev and many other regions."
Meanwhile, the Kremlin admitted that differences existed among the leaders "in the assessment of what's going on" in that East European country.
"They agreed to continue their intensive working contacts, as well as contacts between their countries' foreign-policy chiefs," it said.
The Crimean parliament has voted to join Russia as a federal body, and decided to hold the referendum over its future status on March 16, two weeks earlier than the former plan.