MOSCOW, March 17 President Vladimir Putin signed
a decree on Monday recognising Crimea as a sovereign state after
the Ukrainian region declared itself independent and applied to
join Russia following a weekend referendum.
The decree posted on the Kremlin's website appeared to be a
first step toward integrating Crimea as a part of the Russian
The decree, which took effect immediately, says Moscow
recognition of Crimea as independent is based on "the will of
the people of Crimea".
Crimea's leaders declared a Soviet-style 97-percent result
in favour of seceding from Ukraine in a vote condemned as
illegal by Kiev and the West. The Crimean parliament formally
proposed that Russia "admit the Republic of Crimea as a new
subject with the status of a republic".
Putin will address the issue at a special joint session of
the Russian parliament on Tuesday.