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Foreign affairs

Crimea overwhelmingly votes to join Russia in disputed referendum

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Despite warnings from the United States and its allies that they would not recognize the outcome of the referendum, Crimean voters on Sunday voted almost unanimously to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. Preliminary tallies showed more than nine in ten voters backed a union with Moscow, according to multiple reports.

The U.S. maintained that the election was illegal and illegitimate, siding with the interim Ukrainian government that has taken over since the country ousted pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovich. And with Russian troops already positioned in Crimea, there's reason to wonder just how fair such a tectonic vote could be.

But talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart on Friday proved fruitless — Kerry said there was no "common vision" between the two sides — with Russia refusing to recognize the interim government in Kiev as legitimate. Then on Saturday, Russia vetoed a proposed U.N. resolution that would have rejected the outcome of the referendum.

In a phone call with President Obama Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the vote, saying the election was "completely in line with the norms of international law."