Crimean leaders sign treaty to join Russia

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from FoxNews,

A defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin answered President Obama’s announced sanctions against a handful of officials in Putin’s inner circle — but not Putin, himself — by signing a treaty Tuesday making Crimea a part of Russia.

The signing follows a referendum on Sunday in which residents of Ukraine’s southern region overwhelmingly backed the move. The treaty still must be approved by Russia’s Constitutional Court and ratified by both houses of parliament. Those steps are considered mere formalities.

Putin signed the treaty with Crimea’s prime minister and parliament speaker following a televised address to the nation, in which he vigorously defended Crimea’s vote as a restoration of historical justice.

Putin has accused the West of encouraging unrest in Ukraine in order to break its historic ties with Russia, and dismissed Western criticism of the Crimean vote as illegitimate.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said that one Ukrainian serviceman was killed and another injured when a military facility in Crimea was stormed Tuesday by armed men just hours after Putin’s speech.

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