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Local Ukrainian-Americans closely watch Crimea developments

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Local Ukrainian-Americans were keeping a close eye back home Monday after Russian and Crimean officials said an overwhelming majority of residents voted to separate from Ukraine.

We feel this vote was a sham. How can you vote when you have armed guards walking around your polling booth? Some of the votes were pre-printed with a certain choice already check marked before they started, said Dr. Andrij Baran, President of the Capital District Branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

Baran helped put CBS 6 in touch with a Crimean resident visiting the U.S. we are calling Ivan. Ivan does not want his real name used because of concerns for his family back home after he says they were threatened with physical violence if they did not vote for independence.

The soldiers, Russian soldiers came. They did not have any insignias on them they were obvious Russian soldiers. They seemed to indicate they were from the home guard, but it was obvious they were not locals, said Ivan, with Dr. Baran acting as translator.  There was no vote. There was no choice in the vote. They imported in many Russians because the border was open and all kinds of strangers were voting.

Ivan is closely watching the U.S. response and hopes swift action can prevent things from getting worse.

No matter what America does, Russia is determined to get what it wants and seems it has the green light to do so, said Ivan.

The U.S. and its European allies said they will not recognize the Crimean Republic and called the vote a violation of Ukraines constitution and international law.

Legal experts say both sides are required to exhaust non-violent options before heading toward war.

Principal number one is territorial integrity, sovereign integrity and there's an issue now that what's happened in the Ukraine that that principal, which is at the foundation of international humanitarian law and international armed conflict law, has been violated, said Kent Eiler, Senior Associate with Tully Rinckey PLLC. These are sort of mini acts of war that one side could use to justify going to war and then the question is at which point will one side pull the trigger?