MOSCOW, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin told his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in an early Monday call that the Crimea referendum was totally legal, while the White House rejected the results.
Putin said the referendum, which concluded at 20:00 p.m. local time (1800 GMT), fully complied with international law, according to the Kremlin website.
He also noted that the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should cover all the Ukrainian regions.
Despite different assessments of the situation in Crimea, the two leaders agreed to continue searching for ways of assistance to the stabilization of Ukraine.
The telephone conversation came hours after Putin talked with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, when the strongman reiterated his long-held position over Ukraine.
Mikhail Malyshev, chairman of the commission preparing and holding the All-Crimea Referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, told reporters that with 50 percent of votes already tallied, 95.5 percent were in favor of joining Russia, 3.5 percent wanted to stay with Ukraine and the remaining 1 percent of votes were invalid.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday confirmed to U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry via a telephone conversation that Moscow's position on Crimea referendum remained unchanged.
Lavrov urged the U.S. side to place its full influence on Kiev authorities to "stop mass lawlessness and arbitrariness against the Russian speaking population."
Also on Sunday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington rejected the referendum, adding "no decisions should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian government. "
He also called Russia's military intervention into Crimea and military exercises on Ukraine's eastern border "dangerous and destabilizing".
A joint statement issued Sunday by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the referendum in Crimea "illegal and illegitimate", saying its outcome "will not be recognized."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague and his French counterpart also labeled Sunday the referendum as "illegal" and pledged not to recognize the results.