Crimean parliament has formally declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.
The move follows Sunday’s controversial referendum which officials say overwhelmingly backed joining Russia.
The government in Kiev has said it will not recognize the results. The US and EU say the vote was illegal and have vowed to impose sanctions on Moscow.
The Crimean peninsula has been under the control of pro-Russia forces since late February.
Moscow says the troops are pro-Russian self-defense forces and not under its direct control.
The crisis follows the ousting of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych on February 22, following months of street protests and deadly clashes.
Ukraine’s interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called the vote “a circus performance” which had been backed up by “21,000 Russian troops, who with their guns are trying to prove the legality of the referendum”.
The vote was boycotted by many among Crimea’s minority Ukrainian and Tatar population, and the election process has been widely criticized.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev has formally approved the partial mobilization of 40,000 reservists, in response to what it called the “war-time situation”.
Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov described the referendum as a “great farce” which “will never be recognized either by Ukraine or by the civilized world”.
According to the vote in Crimea’s parliament on Monday, Ukrainian laws now no longer apply in the region and all state Ukrainian state property belongs to an independent Crimea.
The region will adopt the Russian currency, the rouble, and will move to Moscow time – two hours ahead – by the end of March.
The document approved by Crimean lawmakers also appealed to “all countries of the world to recognise it as an independent state”.
The referendum on breaking from Ukraine and joining Russia was called in early March by the Crimean parliament, with voters asked to choose between joining Russia, or having greater autonomy within Ukraine.
There was no option for those who wanted the constitutional arrangements to remain unchanged.
Ukraine’s chief electoral official, Mikhail Malyshev, said the vote was 96.6% in favor of joining the Russian Federation, with a turnout of 83%.
Crimea’s Tatar population – about 12% of the population – said they would boycott the vote, fearing their lives would be worse under the Kremlin.
The Tatars were deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1944. They were only able to return with the fall of the Soviet Union and many want to remain in Ukraine.
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