Putin Declares Crimea 'Sovereign and Independent' - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Putin Declares Crimea 'Sovereign and Independent'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a "sovereign and independent country."

The Kremlin said Putin signed the decree on Monday, the day after the Black Sea peninsula voted to declare independence from Ukraine and seek annexation by Russia.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama says new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian officials make it clear "that there are consequences for their actions" in Crimea and he's warning that the U.S. stands ready to impose further sanctions if necessary.
 
The president stressed that the government has the authority to go after officials in the Russian arms sector and those who support Russian cronies if the government doesn't pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
 
Obama on Monday froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine in the most comprehensive sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War. The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians involved in the separatist effort.
 
European Union foreign ministers also imposed new sanctions today, slapping travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people they have linked to the push for the secession and possible annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Also, the U.N. says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "deeply disappointed and concerned" that Sunday's referendum in Crimea will exacerbate the crisis in Ukraine.
 
Ukraine's government and Western nations say the overwhelming vote in favor of Crimea joining Russia is illegal.
 
A U.N. spokesman said Monday that Ban is urging all parties to refrain from violence "and those with influence to avoid any steps that could further increase tensions."
 
He said the secretary-general is also urging the parties to pursue a political and diplomatic solution based on the principles of the U.N. Charter, "including respecting Ukraine's unity and sovereignty," that keeps in mind the aspirations of all people in the country.
 
And - Romania's president says Russia has created a chain of frozen conflicts around the Black Sea to further President Vladimir Putin's rebuilding of the former Soviet Union along its former border with the West.
 
Romanian President Traian Basescu, referring to conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine, says "if you look at the map, you will see this chain of frozen conflicts" around the Black Sea "that can be set off at any time."
 
Speaking to the Associated Press in an interview Monday, Basescu said Putin's priorities "seem to be connected to the point of contact between the European Union and NATO." He said Ukraine and Moldova were "a priority for Vladimir Putin, who wants to rebuild the Soviet Union." (AP) 

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