Crimea breaks with Ukraine, joins Russia. US unhappy
3rd update on Monday: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognising Crimea as a sovereign state hours after the EU and US announce sanctions.
2nd update on Monday: American President Barack Obama announced US sanctions against Russian officials over Crimea referendum. The EU also imposed travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine following Crimea’s referendum on joining Russia.
1st update on Monday: Crimea’s parliament declares the region’s independence and formally applies to join Russia, a day after a referendum approves leaving Ukraine.
Residents of Ukraine’s Crimea region held a referendum on Sunday. They decided to break away from Ukraine and side with Russia. Reports say nearly 96.6% of voters in Crimea backed joining Russia.
Crimea’s leader says he will apply to join Russia on Monday. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the Crimean people’s wishes.
Mr Putin and US President Barack Obama spoke over the phone earlier, with the Kremlin and the White House later releasing contrasting accounts of the conversation.
The Kremlin said both men agreed to seek a way to stabilise Ukraine, and that Mr Putin had stressed that the Kiev government had failed to curb “rampant violence by ultra-nationalists”.
The White House said Mr Obama had insisted that the referendum was illegal and would never be accepted, and called for Moscow to support an international monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine.
The Crimea referendum offered voters on the strategic Black Sea Peninsula the choice of seeking annexation by Russia or remaining in Ukraine with greater autonomy.
Election chief Mykhaylo Malyshev said 44.27% had turned out after six hours, which he called “record-breaking”.
The US and Europe condemned the referendum as illegal. Ukraine’s new government called it a ‘circus’.
The White House said it would not recognise the results of the referendum in Crimea. It said it will impose sanctions against Russia within days.
- Autonomous republic within Ukraine
- Transferred from Russia in 1954
- Ethnic Russians – 58.5%
- Ethnic Ukrainians – 24.4%
- Crimean Tatars – 12.1%
Source: Ukraine census 2001
- 21 Nov 2013: President Viktor Yanukovych abandons an EU deal
- Dec: Pro-EU protesters occupy Kiev city hall and Independence Square
- 20 Feb 2014: At least 88 people killed in 48 hours of bloodshed in Kiev
- 22 Feb: Mr Yanukovych flees; parliament votes to remove him and calls election
- 27-28 Feb: Pro-Russian gunmen seize key buildings in Crimean capital Simferopol
- 6 Mar: Crimea’s parliament asks to join Russia and sets referendum for 16 March
- 15 Mar: Russia vetoes UN Security Council resolution condemning Crimea independence referendum
Source (map, timeline): BBC