News / Europe

Crimea Votes in Favor of Union With Russia

  • A pro-Russian crowd watches a live broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech on Crimea, in Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 18, 2014. 
  • City council workers clear a barricade on a road leading to Kyiv's Independence Square, Ukraine, March 18, 2014. 
  • An elderly woman holds a calendar depicting Soviet leader Josef Stalin while watching a broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech on Crimea, as thousands of pro-Russian people gathered to watch the address, in Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 18, 2014.

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federation Council in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, March 18, 2014. 
  • Police look at portraits of missing political activists and journalists that protesters pasted on the gate of the Crimean Interior Ministry in Simferopol, March 18, 2014.
  • Members of a "Maidan" self-defense battalion take part in a training exercise at a Ukrainian Interior Ministry base near Kyiv, March 17, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian serviceman guards a checkpoint near the village of Strelkovo in the Kherson region adjacent to Crimea, March 17, 2014.
  • Members of a Crimean self-defense unit speak with a motorcyclist waving a Russian flag in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 17, 2014.
  • Armed men, believed to be Russian, dig trenches near the Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye outside Simferopol, March 17, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian crowd celebrates in the central square in Sevastopol, Ukraine, March 16, 2014.
  • People wrapped in Russian flags watch fireworks during celebrations after the preliminary referendum results were announced in Lenin Square in the Crimean capital Simferopol, March 16, 2014.
  • A woman casts her ballot at a polling station during the Crimean referendum, in Sevastopol, Ukraine, March 16, 2014.
Images from Ukaine
Elizabeth Arrott
Authorities in Ukraine's separatist Crimean republic say voters have overwhelmingly approved union with Russia in a controversial referendum that has Western leaders preparing sanctions against Moscow.  On Monday, Crimea's parliament approved the referendum, declared independence, and formally applied to become part of Russia.  

Crimea Referendum ResultsCrimea Referendum Results
Crimea Referendum Results
Crimea Referendum Results
It's now official:  Crimeans, already effectively under Russian and pro-Russian control, have made the choice to break from Ukraine and join Russia.  Following Sunday's pro-Russian vote, Crimea's regional assembly has applied to become part of the Russian Federation.
But what comes next after the referendum, both here on the Black Sea peninsula and among world leaders divided in ways that recall Cold War tensions, is far from clear.
Lawmakers in Moscow promise to push aside legal obstacles to allow Crimea to enter the Russian Federation.  But immediate concerns for the region, which has no land border with Russia, include supplying it with energy, water and other basic commodities it now gets from mainland Ukraine.  
The larger showdown over what Western leaders call the annexation of Crimea by Russian forces and an illegal referendum looms.
Celebrations continued in Simferopol's Lenin Square after Crimeans approved joining Russia, March 17, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)Celebrations continued in Simferopol's Lenin Square after Crimeans approved joining Russia, March 17, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
Celebrations continued in Simferopol's Lenin Square after Crimeans approved joining Russia, March 17, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
Celebrations continued in Simferopol's Lenin Square after Crimeans approved joining Russia, March 17, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
Moscow defends Crimea’s move as upholding the principle of self-determination .  A phone call between U.S. and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin reportedly did little to close the gap.
Foreign observers, invited by Crimea’s pro-Russian government , defended the  referendum as keeping to international norms.  Belgian monitor Frank Creyelman dismissed critics, including from the new government in Kyiv, that the vote was held at the barrel of a gun.
“It’s a little bit peculiar that the people who say that had a bit of street rioting and got into power like that," said Creyelman.
Moscow also challenges Ukraine’s leadership, which ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych after popular, pro-European protests last month, sparking the current crisis.  
But Moscow’s post-Soviet intentions toward its neighbors have been a concern long in the making.  And as Washington, the European Union and others refuse to recognize the Crimean vote, Western leaders are nervously watching Russia’s next moves in the rest of Ukraine.

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