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Monday, 17 March 2014

Breaking News: Crimea votes to break off from Ukraine, join Russia

To no one's surprise, Ukraine's autonomous Crimea region has voted overwhelmingly to break off from Ukraine and join Russia to join Russia. But what happens next is far from certain.

Diplomatically, Sunday's referendum has put the United States and Russia on the kind of collision course not seen since the end of the Cold War. Economically, it's unclear how much such a coupling will cost Russia. And politically, it's divided Crimeans -- some of whom think it will bring better pay, and some who see this is a Kremlin land grab.
An overwhelming 96.7% of Crimea chose the option of annexation by Moscow. Turnout was 83%.

On Monday, lawmakers in Crimea approved a resolution that declared the Black Sea peninsula an independent, sovereign state. They then filed an appeal to join Russia.
Moscow strongly backed Sunday's referendum; the majority of the population is ethnic Russian. And Russian lawmakers have said they will welcome Crimea with open arms.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will address a joint session of parliament on Crimea on Tuesday.
But the backlash to the referendum has been harsh from the West.
EU foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels Monday to discuss sanctions against Russia.

"I don't have to remind any of you that it's illegal under the constitution of Ukraine and under international law" European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
Speaking ahead of the meeting which may look at asset freezes as well as travel restrictions, she called on Russia "yet again" to meet with Ukrainian leaders and try to move towards de-escalation. But she said: "We've seen no evidence of that."

The White House said it won't recognize the outcome, saying the vote was "administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law."
Moscow strongly backed Sunday's referendum in the Black Sea peninsula where the majority of the population is ethnic Russian.


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