(NBC) - The White House is talking tough, "The more they escalate, the longer this goes, the great this cost will be," said Senior White House Advisor Dan Pfeiffer.
But the people of Crimea have spoken. 96% want to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. As for the next step, Russia's parliament will likely vote to annex Crimea.
The European Union is expected to reluctantly join the U.S. announcing travel bans and freezing assets against those pushing for a takeover. "That could be disastrous and our citizens at the end of the day would not blame the Russians, but us," said Hannes Swoboda, European Parliament.
Despite the economic risk, some here fear President Putin has the upper hand. "He's ahead as he would walk into any negotiation with Kiev and we're playing catch-up," said Rep. Mike Rogers, of Michigan.
President Obama called Putin again Sunday. Both say they want a diplomatic solution.