Russia Recognizes Crimean Independence Despite Sanctions
With the backing of his parliament and even Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin on Monday officially recognized the results of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea to break away from Ukraine.
Voters in the peninsula chose overwhelmingly to declare independence from Kiev in an election that has been called illegal by Western powers. The U.S. and Europe responded with sanctions against individuals in Russia and Ukraine.
Both the United States and Russia are treaty bound to recognize Crimea as part of Ukraine, after Ukraine handed over its Soviet-era arsenal. The region, which heavily identifies as Russian, was given to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev some 60 years ago.
Russia maintains military facilities in Crimea, and has been criticized for using the threat of force to essentially seize the territory. Tensions between Moscow and the West erupted after a popular uprising ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer