Russian Leaders to Crimea: Come on Over
Leaders say lawmakers will 'certainly' agree to let Crimea join Russia
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2014 7:34 AM CST
Updated Mar 7, 2014 7:51 AM CST
Russian parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin, background right, welcomes Crimea's prime minister Sergei Aksyonov, center, prior their talks in Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Alexander Shalgin)
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(Newser) – A delegation from Crimea's parliament visited Moscow today, where they got a warm reception and assurances that Russia would back their secession play. "If the people of Crimea decide to join Russia in the referendum, we ...will certainly support this decision," Valentina Matvienko, the chair of Russia's upper house said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The speaker of the Duma agreed, saying Russia would "respect the historic choice of the people of Crimea." Both leaders are close allies of Vladimir Putin, the New York Times points out.

EU leaders warned yesterday that any further Russian Federation moves "would lead to additional and far-reaching consequences," CNN reports, and President Obama has already imposed some punitive measures. But Matvienko brushed such considerations aside, saying, "We have no rights to leave our people when there's a threat to them. None of the sanctions will be able to change our attitude." In other news:

  • Sanctions aren't the only pain Russia is suffering. Russia's stock market has fallen 7% this week, CNN points out, and the ruble is in free-fall, which will force Russia to pay more for the food, clothes, and medicine it imports from Europe and China.
  • The US knew Russia's military would make a move in Crimea about a week before it happened, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency tells NPR, saying it was tipped off by naval movements and "what has been referred to as an exercise inside of Russia."
  • The Kremlin has released its own account of the Putin-Obama phone call. In addition to disagreeing about the cause of the conflict, Putin told Obama that the US-Russian relationship was too important to "be sacrificed for individual—albeit rather important—international problems."