Defying Sanctions, Putin Declares Crimea Independent

   < < Go Back
from The New York Times,

Cossacks installed a Russian flag and a Crimean flag on the roof of the City Hall building on Monday in Bakhchysarai, a city in central Crimea.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed a decree late Monday night formally recognizing Ukraine’s Crimea region as a “sovereign and independent state,” defying the United States and Europe just hours after they imposed their first financial sanctions since the crisis began and laying the groundwork for possible annexation.

Mr. Putin’s decree came after the breakaway republic formally declared its independence and asked Russia to annex it in keeping with the results of a referendum conducted Sunday under the watch of Russian troops. The Kremlin announced that Mr. Putin would address both houses of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday, when many expect him to endorse annexation.

The moves showed that Moscow had no intention of backing down in the face of Western sanctions over a dispute that has created a profound rift in East-West relations and threatens the security of borders created after the Soviet Union’s breakup in the early 1990s.

Earlier Monday the United States froze the assets and banned travel for 11 Russian and Ukrainian political figures, including top aides and allies of Mr. Putin as well as former President Viktor F. Yanukovych of Ukraine, whose ouster following pro-Western street protests last month prompted the Russian military incursion into Crimea. The European Union followed suit with sanctions against 21 Russians and Ukrainians, although none as prominent as those on the American list.

“We’re making it clear there are consequences for these actions,” Mr. Obama said in a televised statement in the White House briefing room on Monday morning. “The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

More From The New York Times: