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Crimea To Vote On Joining Russia March 16th

Crimea's parliament has announced it'll hold a referendum in just 10 days asking voters whether they want to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Crimea To Vote On Joining Russia March 16th
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With officials saying Russian troops had full operational control of the Crimean region of the Ukraine, some wondered why Russian president Vladimir Putin announced just two days ago Russia didn't plan to absorb Crimea. Maybe Putin knew he might not have to take it.

"Just a short time ago, lawmakers in Crimea announced a date to decide if the Ukrainian region would become a part of Russia. That date is set for March 16th." (Via WXYZ)

Along with the local parliament asking Moscow to start the procedure of allowing Crimea to become part of Russia, the Kyiv Post reports a March 16th vote would include two questions.

1. Do you support Crimea's reunification with Russia?

2. Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Crimean Republic dated 1992 and Crimea's status as a part of Ukraine?

RT, which is funded by the Russian government, reported the referendum was announced to crowds outside the Crimean parliament building who cheered and began chanting, "Russia!" (Via Twitter / RT_com)

Last month, protesters ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych because he took a bailout from Russia instead of allowing the country to make a deal with the European Union. (Via Sky News)

However, much of the population in eastern and southern regions of the former Soviet state are pro-Russian. The Crimean peninsula was part of the Russian state until the mid-1950s, and a majority of the population there is ethnically Russian.

After the vote was announced, Ukraine's interim economy minister told reporters in the capital Kiev, "We're not working out what to do if Crimea joins the Russian Federation because we believe it's unconstitutional." Others already question the vote's legitimacy. (Via BBC)

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: "If it was going to be a credible referendum, you'd need to have international observers. I don't know how they're going to organize this in 10 days and what the circumstances are, but it seems to me unlikely that you're going to have the international legitimate kind of process you would need." (Via CNN)

Putin has made it no secret he wants Ukraine to stay out of the European Union and instead join his proposed Eurasian Economic Union. A senior fellow at Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity told CBC Crimea is just the next step in Russia's march toward Kiev.

ANDREI ILLARIONOV: "They will stage provocations in which there will be victims. After that — using these victims at pretext — they will have a military intervention into eastern Ukraine." (Via CBC)

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hasn't yet been able to get Ukraine's interim government and Russia's foreign minister to talk face-to-face despite meeting with both this week. (Via WCBS)