Speed Reads

Foreign affairs

Russia's Vladimir Putin declares Crimea independent; the world disagrees

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Late Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that recognizes Crimea as a "sovereign and independent state," a day after Crimean voters overwhelmingly approved a rushed, flawed referendum declaring their separation from Ukraine and allegiance to Russia. The U.S. and Europe don't agree with Putin's assessment, and it's unlikely the United Nations will, either.

Crimea's parliament is hardly waiting around for international recognition. On Monday, the regional legislature voted to petition to join the Russian Federation, scrap Ukrainian laws, nationalize Ukrainian property, take the Russian ruble as Crimea's official currency, and even switch time zones — on March 30, Crimeans will spring forward two hours, to Moscow time. Amid all the uneasiness is the question of Ukraine's military bases in Crimea, which are still occupied by Ukrainian soldiers.