Western diplomats are preparing a draft resolution against Russian actions in the Crimea in an attempt to isolate Moscow over its action in Ukraine, Al Jazeera has learned.
Al Jazeera's diplomatic editor, James Bays, said he was informed by diplomats on Thursday that the US was to circulate the draft at the end of a Security Council meeting on Syria.
It would be put to a vote on either Friday or Saturday, a day before a planned referendum asking Crimeans if they wished to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation - a vote Western powers have described as illegal.
He said that while Russia would use its permanent council status to veto any resolution, the draft would be significant if it gained support from members of the council and showed Moscow is isolated in the international community.
"It is about showing the world where the members stand. The key player is the Chinese," he said.
"A lot of the diplomacy right now is focused on China - making sure China doesn't side with Russia and abstains."
Speaking at an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Ukraine's interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that it was still possible to resolve the crisis in Russia peacefully.
He said that the military aggression shown by Russia was "absolutely and entirely unacceptable".
The resolution comes after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, threatened "serious steps" against Russia if a referendum was held in the Crimea this week.
Kerry said on Thursday that the EU and the US would prepare a response against Russia if he could not agree a compromise with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at talks in London on Friday.
"If there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue there will be a very serious series of steps in Europe and here with respect to the options that are available to us," Kerry said.
Pro-Russian troops moved into Crimea after Ukraine's pro-Kremlin leader Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by parliament on February 22.
|Crimean town leans towards Kremlin
Since then the peninsula has seen clashes between groups whose loyalties are divided between Moscow and Kiev. A deteriorating security situation, with armed men taking over military installations, has caused alarm in Europe and the US.
President Vladimir Putin maintains that Russia has the right to use force to protect its citizens in Ukraine. Western powers have called Russia's actions illegal and against international agreements.