Crimean Parliament Declares Independence, Applies to Join Russia

Following Sunday's overwhelming vote in favor of secession, Crimea's parliament declared the region's independence from Ukraine on Monday and formally asked to join the Russian Federation. As expected, officials in Kiev, the U.S., and the E.U. have denounced the vote, calling it illegal and threatening sanctions.

After the vote, the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev approved a presidential decree authorizing the call-up of 40,000 reserve troops.

More than 96 percent of voters supported Sunday's referendum, which Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing a 2008 precedent in Kosovo, defended Sunday in a phone call with President Obama.

"The referendum was organized in such a way as to guarantee Crimea's population the possibility to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Obama, of course, rejected that argument. "President Obama emphasized that the Crimean 'referendum', which violates the Ukrainian constitution and occurred under duress of Russian military intervention, would never be recognized by the United States and the international community," the White House said Sunday in a statement after the phone call.

Crimea's new prime minister, Serge Aksyonov, told Russian media that Crimean delegation would arrive in Russia soon to discuss annexation. Russia's parliament is expected to widely support the move.

"The high voter turnout and the vast support for Crimea's accession to Russia speak for themselves," Sergei Neverov, the deputy speaker of Russia's lower house of Parliament, told Interfax.

[Image via AP]