Moscow, March 18 :
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to recognise Crimea as a sovereign and independent state, the Kremlin press service said Monday.
“Considering the will of the peoples of Crimea expressed at the all-Crimea referendum on March 16, 2014, I hereby decree that the Republic of Crimea, where the city of Sevastopol has a special status, be recognised as a sovereign and independent state,” Xinhua quoted the decree as saying.
It entered into force upon signature, the press service said.
On Tuesday, Putin will address the federal assembly over Crimea and Sevastopol’s requests to join Russia.
Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic, held a referendum Sunday, with some 96.6 percent of the voters for joining Russia.
Also on Monday, the Crimean parliament adopted a resolution on the independence of the territory and asked Russia to admit it as its new constituent member.
Putin’s decree came hours after West countries announced sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian politicians.
The European Union decided to impose sanctions, including visa bans and freezing assets, against 21 officials from the two countries. The US also put such high-profile officials as Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Federal Council, upper house of parliament, chairperson Valentina Matvienko on the sanction list, which Matvienko slammed as ” political blackmail”.
Washington has also warned that it would take additional steps against Russia if Moscow fails to return servicemen to their bases and does not respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.