Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognizes Crimea as independent state

SOURCE: ITAR-TASS

Brushing off international pressure and sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin today formally recognized Crimea as an independent state. 

Read more: Crimea moves to secede from Ukraine, U.S. & EU impose sanction against Russian officials

“I hereby decree that the Republic of Crimea, where the city of Sevastopol has a special status, be recognised as a sovereign and independent state,” according to a decree signed by Putin.

A Russian-backed referendum was held on Sunday after which the Crimean legislature voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Russia, which maintains a naval base in the strategic Black Sea peninsula, has mobilized thousands of troops to Crimea and claimed the move was necessary to protect Russians from backlash following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in late February.

The United States and European Union have called the Crimea referendum “illegal” and have imposed sanctions – including asset freezes and travel bans – against Russian officials deemed responsible for “undermining” the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine.

According to Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS, Putin will address the parliament tomorrow on the next steps to admit Crimea as a member of the Russian Federation.

The Ukrainian parliament – Rada – approved a “partial mobilization” of troops in response to “further aggression in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which the Russian Federation plans or tries to cover by a farce called ‘referendum'”.

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