Russia signs treaty to adopt Crimea
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin and two Crimean leaders signed a treaty yesterday on making the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula a part of Russia, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions.
"The Republic of Crimea is considered to be part of Russia from the date of the signing of the treaty," the Kremlin said.
Crimea's accession still requires the approval of the Russian Parliament.
The move followed a disputed referendum in Crimea on Sunday, in which 97 per cent of voters were declared to have voted to return to Russian rule, after 60 years as part of Ukraine.
In a symbolic gesture, Crimea's Russian-installed leader, Mr Sergei Aksyonov, announced that Crimea would switch to Moscow time from March 30, putting it two hours ahead of the rest of Ukraine.
On Monday, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on a handful of officials from Russia, but these have been largely dismissed as ineffectual.