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  1. Ukraine Main Page
  2. An Independent Nation
  3. A Struggling Economy and a Troubled Government
  4. Gas Causes an Energy Crisis
  5. Several Rounds of Elections and Another Gas Crisis
  6. Ally of Former Prime Minister Jailed
  7. 2012 Language Bill and New Election
  8. Massive Protests Call for Yanukovich's Resignation
  9. Yanukovich Flees Capital
  10. Russian Troops Sent to Crimea
  11. Putin Announces Annexation of Crimea
  12. Unrest Spreads to Other Eastern Cities
  13. Referendums on Autonomy Held in Other Eastern Regions
  14. Billionaire Businessman Wins Presidential Election
  15. Passenger Jet Crashes in Eastern Ukraine
  16. Offensive by Ukrainian Military Results in Gains; Rebels, Government Agree on Cease-Fire
  17. Pro-Western Parties Dominate Parliamentary Elections
  18. Cease-fire in Tatters Amid Resurgence of Fighting
  19. Expectations Low for Renewed Truce Agreement; Economy in Tatters
Putin Announces Annexation of Crimea

Nearly 97% of voters in Crimea chose to secede from Ukraine in the referendum on March 16, 2014. The next day, the Crimean Parliament declared the region independent and formally sought annexation by Russia. Putin said the vote was legal and binding, and in a statement the Kremlin said, "The referendum was organized in such a way as to guarantee Crimeas population the possibility to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination." Obama told Putin that neither the U.S. nor the international community would recognize the results of the referendum. He said the referendum "violates the Ukrainian Constitution and occurred under duress of Russian military intervention." On March 17, Obama imposed economic sanctions on 11 Russian officials and Putin advisers, including Crimean prime minister Sergey Aksyonov, who were "responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine." The sanctions freeze the assets held in the U.S. and ban Americans from doing business with those sanctioned. The European Union enacted similar sanctions.

Putin signed a treaty stating that Russia had annexed Crimea on March 18, saying he was reclaiming territory that was part of Russia from 1783, when Empress Catherine II took it over from the Ottoman Empire, to 1954 when Nikita Khrushchev transferred the region to Ukraine. "Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people," Putin said. After signing the treaty, Putin gave a speech that both defended his move, denounced internationally as a land grab, and lashed out at the West. "Our Western partners have crossed a line," he said, referring to the West's support for Kiev. "We have every reason to think that the notorious policy of confining Russia, pursued in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today." The move further deteriorated Russia's relationship with the U.S. and Europe. It also complicated any hopes for a peace agreement in Syria and cast a cloud over the talks over Iran's nuclear program. Neither the U.S. nor the European Union recognized Crimea as part of Russia.

On March 21, the European Union and Ukraine signed a portion of the EU Association Agreement—the same deal that former President Yanukovich refused to sign, sparking the unrest. The section that was signed lends Ukraine political support; the economic part will be enacted once a new president is elected. U deal that former President Yanukovich refused to sign, sparking the unrest. The section that was signed lends Ukraine political support; the economic part will be enacted once a new president is elected. kraine withdrew its military from Crimea on March 24, citing a threat to the soldiers and their families. The members of the Group of 8 industrialized nations announced on March 24 that they had suspended Russia from the group and moved the upcoming meeting from Sochi, Russia, to Brussels.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution on March 27 that declared Russia's annexation of Crimea illegal and described the referendum on the issue as "having no validity." One hundred countries voted in favor, 11 voted against, and 58 abstained. The resolution has no enforcement power, making it symbolic. Nonetheless, it clearly sent Putin a message. On the same day, the International Monetary Fund agreed to loan Ukraine $17 billion as long as the country implemented several austerity measures, and the U.S. Congress approved a $1 billion aid package. The aid will boost the faltering economy and help it meet its debt obligations.

Next: Unrest Spreads to Other Eastern Cities
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