MOSCOW, March 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a draft treaty between Crimea and Moscow on the Ukrainian breakaway region’s reunification with Russia, the Kremlin said Tuesday.
The Russian leader has formally informed the Russian parliament of a request from Crimea to join Russia as a new federal subject with the status of a republic. The city of Sevastopol, which hosts a major Russian naval base, would have a special status within the republic.
Putin on Tuesday will address an assembly of both houses of parliament, heads of regions and representatives of public organizations about the request by Ukraine’s Crimea to become part of Russia.
Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking autonomous republic within Ukraine, was part of Russia until it was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet leaders in 1954.
Putin signed a decree Monday recognizing Crimea as an independent state, following a referendum Sunday that saw voters on the peninsula overwhelmingly support secession and reunification with Russia.
Crimea’s leadership has refused to recognize as legitimate the new government in Ukraine that came to power following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych last month.
The US and EU imposed sanctions Monday on senior Russian officials, including visa bans and asset freezes, in protest of Russian support of Crimea's actions.
On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers will consider imposing reciprocal sanctions against the US and EU.