Crimea has overwhelmingly voted to break away from Ukraine and seek annexation by Russia, the only nation openly supporting the decision.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday recognizing Crimea as a "sovereign and independent country."
Ukraine's interim president, however, isn't recognizing Russia's declaration, saying he will never accept a Russian annexation of Crimea. He said Ukraine is offering peace while Russia is offering war. The Ukrainian government and Western nations agree Crimea's vote is illegal.
Russia's Parliament could take up the issue of whether to annex Crimea as soon as Friday.
The United States is standing up to Russia by imposing new sanctions on officials who support Crimea's referendum. President Obama froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials Monday for their support of Crimea's decision.
President Obama said he wants to make it clear to Russian officials that there are consequences for their action, but said he still believes there's a way to resolve the crisis diplomatically.
"That includes Russia pulling its forces in Crimea back to their bases, supporting the deployment of additional international monitors in Ukraine and engaging in dialogue with the Ukrainian government," said President Obama.
He said the U.S. is ready to impose further sanctions if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine. The Treasury Department is also imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians involved in the separatist effort.
69 News spoke with associate professor Katalin Fabian from the department of government and law at Lafayette College in Easton.
"It's unbelievably dangerous. It's dangerous for the whole world. It's extremely dangerous for people in Europe but we are just as much connected in the Lehigh Valley," said Fabian. "This could be the beginning of a very bellicose confrontational period and since the end of the Cold War, there has been a dramatic decline in armed conflict all over the world and such a confrontation could dramatically change that dynamic."
"Sanctions work very selectively, often very rarely, and many people know that very well," she added about sanctions imposed by both the United States and European Union.
"Neither the U.S. or the Europeans are eager to do a physical military confrontation but it's quite possible that that will be happening," Fabian said.