Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a parliamentary bill for Crimea to be annexed as part of Russia on Tuesday morning, completing yet another step in the road for the peninsula to legally leave Ukraine. Putin stated that he would sign the decree with Crimea's leader as well confirming the annexation plans.
Putin thumbed his nose at sanctions from the EU and US by signing the decree, which a Telegraph headline estimated risks "a new Cold War." In another move of defiance, the Russian president released his own blacklist of US officials to be sanctioned hours earlier, just after he declared that he recognized Crimea as a "sovereign and independent state."
Now, as RT explained Monday, the next step will be for the parliament to approve the annexation of Crimea, as well as for the constitution to be amended to reflect the change.
Moves for Crimea's annexation follow a controversial referendum vote Sunday in which over 95% of the population allegedly voted for Moscow over Kiev.
There are questions of coercion in the vote, as Russia effectively militarily occupied Crimea on March 1, with troops taking over the Belbek Airbase. Russia has been consolidating its military hold over the peninsula since, ignoring American condemnation.
The development is the latest in a series of prolonged conflicts between Ukraine and Russia since early December, when protests began in Independence Square against the government's refusal to become a full member of the European Union (EU).