Russia's State Duma Approves Treaty to Annex Crimea
The treaty to fully absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation was introduced to the lower house of parliament. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has met with Secretary of State John Kerry many times, said the treaty must be approved.
"I am certain the passage of these documents will be a turning point in the fate of the multi-ethnic peoples of Crimea and Russia, who are linked by the close ties of historical solidarity," Lavrov told the State Duma.
Describing annexation of Crimea as needed to protect ethnic Russians there, he said: "To this day, lawlessness continues, and there are daily actions by nationalists, anti-Semites and other extremists on whom the new (Ukrainian) authorities depend."
He added: "The unification of these peoples in one state will promote the well-being and prosperity and serve the interests of Russia."
Four-hundred forty-five members of parliament voted in favor and one against. Four members did not vote.
Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on Tuesday even after the West imposed more sanctions against 11 Russians and Ukrainians. The treaty will move to the Federation Council on Friday.
President Obama and the European Union warned Russia there will be more sanctions if Moscow continues to show aggression towards Ukraine. However, the disorganization and soft stance of the West was literally laughed at by Russia. The deputy prime minister went on Twitter and poked fun at Obama’s sanctions that did not hit any of the high-level people in Moscow.