Monday, March 17, 2014

Crimea Breaks from Ukraine, Joins Russia

Crimea's regional parliament has declared the region an independent state, after its residents voted overwhelmingly to break off from Ukraine and seek to join Russia, news agencies reported.
Sunday's referendum is not recognized by the West, and the United States and the European Union are preparing sanctions against Russia, whose troops have been occupying Crimea for several weeks.
A delegation of Crimean lawmakers is set to travel to Moscow Monday for negotiations on how to proceed further. Russian lawmakers have suggested that formally annexing Crimea is just a matter of time.

In Simferopol, Crimea’s regional capital, crowds draped in Russian flags danced late into the night. Those same white, blue and red colours were immediately hung from government buildings, even though it’s still unclear how Russia plans to govern Crimea.

“They wasted no time,” the CBC’s Derek Stoffel reports from Simferopol. “The Russian flag now flies proudly here and across Crimea.”

Nearly 97 per cent of voters supported joining Russia in the final count of Sunday's referendum results, a Crimean election chief said. Mikhail Malyshev said the final tally was 96.8 per cent in favour of leaving Ukraine.

The referendum has plunged East-West relations to lows not seen since the Cold War.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the will of the people in Crimea.

"The results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia," the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Neverov, was quoted as saying.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the vote was conducted under illegal Russian military occupation and its results are invalid. The United States and the European Union appear to share this view.

Harper says Canada is working with other countries on possible sanctions against Russia. Harper is travelling to Ukraine this Friday in a show of support for the new government in Kyiv.

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