MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea as an independent state, paving the way for its reunification with Russia, the Kremlin press service said on Monday.
Russia also said that it recognizes Sevastopol, a Crimean port that houses the Russian Black Sea fleet base, a city with a "special autonomous status" within the Republic of Crimea.
The decree, which comes into force immediately after being signed, is “a step towards further procedures" to make Crimea a part of Russia, said the State Duma’s envoy to the Russian Constitutional Court, Dmitry Vyatkin.
Once Crimea’s independence is recognized, its formal accession request should be considered and approved by the Russian parliament. After that, the sides sign an international treaty that needs to be approved by the Constitutional Court, which, in its turn, would forward it to the parliament for ratification.
Then a law on establishing a new administrative entity should be drafted and passed by relevant state bodies.
Crimea, the autonomous republic within Ukraine, has refused to recognize as legitimate the new leadership in the country. A referendum held Sunday in the largely Russian-ethnic autonomous republic saw over 96 percent of voters support reunification with Russia.
On Tuesday, Putin will address an assembly of both houses of parliament, as well as heads of regions and representatives of public organizations about Crimea’s reunification request.
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