Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree formally recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state, following the peninsula’s declaration of independence.
The decree, signed on Monday and posted on the Kremlin’s website, is said to be a first step towards Crimea’s reunification with the Russian Federation.
According to the decree, Moscow recognizes Crimea as an independent state based on “the will of the people of Crimea.”
On Sunday, 96.8 percent of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine in favor of joining Russia.
The move sparked angry reactions from Washington and the EU, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials as well as authorities in Crimea.
Moscow has slammed the move with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov describing the sanctions as “an unbalanced approach absolutely ignoring reality.”
This comes as the Crimean Supreme Council passed a decree on Monday, declaring independence from Ukraine and formally applying to join Russia after all of the 85 lawmakers present in the 100-seat assembly voted in support of seceding from Ukraine.
“The Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea… declares Crimea an independent sovereign state – the Republic of Crimea,” the decree read, adding, “The Republic of Crimea… applies to the Russian Federation to accept the Republic of Crimea as a member of the Russian Federation.”
The decree also urged the international community to respect Crimea’s decision.
“The Republic of Crimea appeals to the United Nations and to all countries of the world to recognize it as an independent state,” it read.
Furthermore, the council announced that all Ukrainian state property in Crimea would be nationalized.