Crimea referendum: Voters ‘back Russia union’

"Friendship of Nations" fountain in All-Russia Exhibition Center

“Friendship of Nations” fountain in All-Russia Exhibition Center

Source: BBC

Some 95.5% of voters in Crimea have supported joining Russia in a disputed referendum, officials announce, after half the votes have been counted.

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.

Many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum, and the EU and US condemned it as illegal.

Pro-Russian forces took control of Crimea in February.

They moved in after Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president was ousted by street protests.

Election officials said the turnout was a record high, beating the numbers who vote in local elections.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin and US President Barack Obama had spoken over the phone and agreed to seek a way to stabilise Ukraine.

Shortly after polling stations closed, however, the US renewed its threat to put sanctions on Russia.

White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned the vote as “dangerous and destabilising” and said it would have “increasing costs for Russia”.

The EU said in a statement that the vote was “illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised”.

EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday and are expected to consider imposing sanctions on Russian officials.

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Categories: Europe and Australia, Russia, Ukraine

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  1. Latest update from CNN

    (CNN) — Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break off from Ukraine and join Russia, according to final results of a referendum that has put the United States and Russia on the kind of collision course not seen since the end of the Cold War.
    An overwhelming 96.7% of Crimea had chosen the option of annexation by Moscow, the head of the referendum commission, Mikhail Malyshev said, as Western powers and leaders in Kiev denounced it as a sham. Turnout was 83%.
    EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels Monday to discuss sanctions against Russia.
    “I don’t have to remind any of you that it’s illegal under the constitution of Ukraine and under international law” European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
    Speaking ahead of the meeting which may look at asset freezes as well as travel restrictions, she called on Russia “yet again” to meet with Ukrainian leaders and try to move towards de-escalation. But she said: “We’ve seen no evidence of that.”
    The White House said it won’t recognize the outcome, saying the vote was “administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.”
    Moscow strongly backed Sunday’s referendum in the Black Sea peninsula where the majority of the population is ethnic Russian.

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