Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Friday that completed the annexation of the Crimean peninsula
Eyes Open Report
Putin’s signature means Crimea has become part of the Russian Federation as two separate districts; Crimea and the port of Sevastopol.
Moscow’s upper house voted unanimously to support the annexation which the Russian president later signed along with the cooperation of representatives from the secessionist Ukrainian region.
“I want to congratulate all citizens of the Russian Federation—residents of the whole country, Crimea and Sevastopol—on what is, without any exaggeration, a banner event,” Putin told senior lawmakers before placing his signature on the law.
The Crimean referendum that was held on Sunday resulted in a landslide of support for the peninsula to become part of the Russian Federation and break free from Ukraine.
Simultaneously, the Ukrainian government signed a trade pact with the EU that was initially part of the same deal former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from last November. The deal will bring Kiev and EU political and economic ties much closer.
Reuters describes the terms of the Kiev EU pact:
As well as the closer political ties, the European Commission has agreed to extend nearly 500 million euros worth of trade benefits to Ukraine, removing customs duties on a wide range of agricultural goods, textiles and other imports. Once Ukraine has held presidential elections on May 25 and a new administration is in place, the EU plans to move ahead with signing a free-trade agreement with Ukraine, giving the country unfettered access to the EU’s market of 500 million consumers.
The US and EU have placed sanctions on Russia in response to the annexation. On Thursday president Obama fired a second round of sanctions that targeted members of Putin’s inner circle and a major Russian bank.
Those western sanctions have caused Russian to retaliate with their own. The most recent sanctions from the Kremlin bar nine US representative from entering Russia. Those the Russian government have barred from entrance into their country include House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
(Photo: Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/AP)