British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agree that the March 16 referendum in Crimea may violate international law and Russia will likely face "consequences" if it recognizes the vote, a British government spokesman said Monday.

Cameron and Merkel held a working dinner in Germany on Sunday night to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

"They agreed that the priority is to reduce tensions and for Russia to participate in a contact group as soon as possible," the British government spokesman said.

"They reiterated that the planned referendum in Crimea could be illegal and that any attempt by Russia to legitimize the results could bring more consequences," the British government spokesman said.

The two leaders agreed that Ukraine's government must be supported and the international community should work to stabilize the country's economy, the British government spokesman said.

Cameron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone and was assured that Russia seeks a peaceful end to the crisis over Crimea, the British government spokesman said.

Putin told Cameron that he was not opposed to forming a contact group to promote a dialgue with the new government in Kiev, the British government spokesman said.

Putin told the prime minister that he would study the proposal with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov since Russia does not recognize Ukraine's interim government, the British government spokesman said.

Moscow deployed troops in the Crimean Peninsula, a majority Russian-speaking region, claiming it was protecting ethnic Russians and Russia's interests in the area.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, which has been the home of the naval force since the 18th century.

The Crimean Peninsula, located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, is home to 2 million people; ethnic Russians make up 60 percent of the population, while 25 percent of residents are ethnic Ukrainians and 12 percent are Crimean Tatars. EFE