President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state after the Ukrainian region’s pro-Russian leaders declared it independent and applied to join Russia following a controversial referendum on Sunday.
The decree posted on the Kremlin’s website appeared to be a first step toward integrating Crimea into the Russian Federation.
The decree, which took effect immediately, says Moscow’s recognition of Crimea as an independent state is based on “the will of the people of Crimea.”
Crimea’s leaders declared a 97-percent result in favor of seceding from Ukraine in a vote condemned as illegal by Kyiv and the West. The Crimean parliament formally proposed that Russia “admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic.”
Putin will address the issue at a special joint session of the Russian parliament on Tuesday.