Voters in the Crimea region of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to secede from their country and join Russia, in a major victory for Moscow that followed days of international condemnation that the referendum itself was illegitimate.
The results of the vote in the predominantly ethnic Russian peninsula were not unexpected, coming several weeks after Kremlin-led forces took control of the region. But the crucial step toward official annexation by Russia will further raise tensions with Ukraine, as well as with the United States and Europe, which have promised an escalation of sanctions. An election official said 95 percent of voters supported joining Russia, with about half of ballots counted, the Associated Press reports.
The military threat Russia poses was palpable during the vote in Crimea, with Russian warships circling Crimea and Moscow-directed troops blockading Ukrainian troops in their bases. Russia said at the time of its initial intervention that…
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