Crimea is now an independent country. Russian president, Vladimir Putin signed the decree earlier today. According to a March 17 report by Voice of America, the Crimean citizens voted and the landslide decision created a new country.
An overwhelming 97% of Crimean citizens voted that Crimea would become a sovereign state. Only 3% of its citizens were not in favor of becoming independent from Ukraine. This vote came after the Russian invasion. The new independence of Crimea will be short-lived. This was just the first step of becoming part of the Russian Federation.
Putin appears to be the only world leader to recognize the vote for Crimean independence. Members of the European Union (EU) and the United States do not recognize the vote. Ukraine also does not recognize the vote, accusing the vote of being a “circus spectacle” conducted at gunpoint by Russia. The UN went as far as to question “human rights abuses” that the Crimean citizens faced. Russia is still stating its “incursion into Crimea” was to protect ethnic Russians who live there. The United States, EU and NATO issued a statement that called the vote “illegal and illegitimate” as well as “unacceptable.”
The EU is considering sanctions on Russia. The EU and Ukraine are expected to sign a an agreement late this week. This agreement will create “closer political cooperation” between the EU and Ukraine.
Barack Obama has yet to issue sanctions against Russia. Instead, he issued sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials. Putin was not sanctioned.
Despite all the opposition to the vote, Vladimir Putin signed the decree. That signed decree was post on the Kremlin's website.