US & World

Crimean parliament passes 'declaration of independence'

A masked man, believed to be a Russian soldier, holds a Crimean flag as members of a pro-Russian self-defense unit stand in formation Monday in the regional capital of Simferopol.
A masked man, believed to be a Russian soldier, holds a Crimean flag as members of a pro-Russian self-defense unit stand in formation Monday in the regional capital of Simferopol.
Vasily Fedosenko /Reuters /Landov

"Crimea's regional legislature on Tuesday adopted a 'declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,' " The Associated Press reports. "The document specified that Crimea will become an independent state if its residents vote on Sunday in favor of joining Russia."

That's just one of several developments Tuesday as the crisis in Ukraine continues. Among the other news:

The vote for a "declaration of independence" by Crimea's parliament adds to the tension that's building in the run-up to Sunday's referendum. Just more than half of the region's population is ethnic Russian. Since Yanukovych left Ukraine last month following months of protests against his government and was then removed from office by his nation's parliament, Russia has moved to take control of the strategically important Crimean Peninsula — where it has long had a Black Sea naval base.

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The U.S. and its Western allies have condemned Russia's actions as being in violation of international law. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is protecting ethnic Russians from possible reprisal by what he claims are Ukrainian nationalists now in control in Kiev.

So far, there have been no serious confrontations between Russian forces and Ukrainian troops, who have mostly remained in their bases in Crimea.

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