Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine in a referendum that most of the world has condemned as illegal. Early results – when 50% of the votes were counted – showed that 95.5% of ballots were in favour of joining Russia. Russia’s lower house of parliament will pass legislation allowing Ukraine’s southern Crimea region to join Russia “in the very near future”, news agency Interfax cited its deputy speaker as saying on Monday morning. “Results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia,” Sergei Neverov was quoted as saying.
As the results rolled in, they were met with neither surprise nor welcome by the west. Russian president Vladimir Putin told Barack Obama in a phone call on Sunday night that the referendum endorsing Crimea becoming part of Russia was legal and should be accepted, according to the Kremlin. However, Obama said that the US rejected the results and warned that Washington was ready to impose sanctions on Moscow over the crisis.
The White House said that Obama “emphasised that Russia’s actions were in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in co-ordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions”.