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Crimea Votes Overwhelmingly to Join Russia, Moscow Will Annex Quickly

“Crimea greeted the overwhelming decision to join Russia with a festive atmosphere. Anton Troianovski reports the morning after the referendum on the difficult decisions that lie ahead for the Crimean, U.S., European and Russian governments. Photo: Getty Images

Russia gave its clearest signal yet Monday that it plans to move fast to annex Crimea, defying U.S. and European threats of sanctions a day after a referendum in the breakaway Ukrainian region to secede passed handily.

The Moscow-backed leadership of Crimea wasted no time in formally asking to join Russia following the hastily called referendum in which 97% of voters supported becoming part of Russia.

“We will take care of our part quickly, quickly and responsibly,” Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, told reporters in response to the Crimean parliamentary vote, according to local news agencies.

Mr. Naryshkin’s comments came shortly after officials announced that Russian PresidentVladimir Putin¬†will address a joint session of parliament Tuesday on the issue.

The Kremlin didn’t immediately specify what Mr. Putin’s message would be, but the official ITAR-Tass news agency said the address would cover “accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation.”

European diplomats gathered in Brussels to finalize sanctions aimed at deterring Moscow from annexing Crimea, a move the U.S. and Europe argue is illegal and illegitimate. Diplomats said those sanctions are likely to be limited to a small number of Russian and Crimean officials, however….”

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