Russian President Putin and two Crimean leaders have signed a treaty formalizing the absorption of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula into Russia.
Earlier, Mr Putin told a special session of Russia’s parliament that “in people’s heart of hearts, Crimea has always been part of Russia”.
Crimean officials say 97% of voters backed splitting from Ukraine in a controversial referendum on Sunday. These numbers speak for themselves. Putin’s rating climbs to 5-year peak.
Many of Crimea’s ethnic Tatars – about 12% of the population – vowed not to take part in the referendum.
Ukraine is drawing up plans to withdraw it’s soldiers and their families from Crimea, Kiev’s security chief says.
Andriy Parubiy said they wanted to move them “quickly and efficiently” to mainland Ukraine.
Earlier, pro-Russian forces seized two naval bases – including Ukraine navy’s HQ – in Crimea.
New Ukrainian government announced abolishing visa-free regime with Russia. On Wednesday, National Security and Defense Council chief, Andrey Parubiy, advised Ukraine to set up a visa regime with Russia. Ukraine we will introduce a mechanism so that only Russians with travel passports can enter the country, until such a moment when formal visas can be issued, he added.