Crimea Applies to Join Russia
US, EU says 'costs' will be imposed on Russia
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2014 2:59 AM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2014 7:39 AM CDT
Crimea's Russia-backed leader Sergei Aksyonov gestures as people celebrate in Lenin Square in downtown Simferopol last night.   (AP Photo/Max Vetrov)
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(Newser) – Crimea declared independence from Ukraine today, with officials claiming an overwhelming 96.7% of voters voted to join Russia—but the US and its European allies say the vote in the Ukrainian region was illegal and the results will never be accepted. The White House says President Obama has warned Vladimir Putin that the result "would never be recognized by the United States and the international community" and that "we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions," reports the Washington Post.

Crimea's leaders formally applied to join Russia today, and while the Russian parliament had been expected to wait until the end of the week to debate the issue, it is now believed that the region can be absorbed under existing Russian laws, reports the BBC. In what analysts believe could be the first step in a long and damaging cycle of economic retaliation, European Union officials plan to slap sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on scores of top Russian and Crimean officials today, Reuters reports.