Crimea's referendum has finished, and the first results starting to come in are no surprise.
"Of those people who came out to vote, you could see in those transparent ballot boxes, the vast vast vast majority of people were saying, 'Yes, I'd like to see Crimea joining Russia.'" (Via BBC)
With half the ballots counted, election officials report 95 percent of voters elected to join Russia, while 3.5 percent simply voted for Crimea's independence from Ukraine. Russian media estimates voter turnout across Crimea was over 80 percent of the population. (Via RT, RIA Novosti)
After the polls closed, the head of Crimea's electoral commission told reporters the vote was conducted fairly and had no major problems — this despite the absence of international election monitors. (Via Al Jazeera)
Western nations have widely condemned the referendum as illegitimate, citing media censorship and the presence of Russian troops in Crimea during the vote.
DAN PFEIFFER: "This referendum is in violation of international law. The United States is not going to recognize the results of this referendum." (Via NBC)
Both the U.S. and the European Union issued statements after the polls closed condemning the referendum and threatening to enact sanctions Monday. The White House statement warns Russia, "We are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another."
Also Sunday, Ukraine's defense ministry announced it had struck a truce with Russia ensuring no action would be taken against Ukrainian military bases in Crimea until after Mar. 21. (Via The Guardian)
Crimea's de facto leader announced Sunday the region's parliament plans to fly to Russia to submit its request to join.