A participant wears a Russian flag during a pro-Russian
rally outside the regional administration in Donetsk,
The United States and European Union have imposed
personal sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials involved in
the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine as Russian President
Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognising the region as a
The moves heightened the most serious East-West crisis since
the end of the Cold War, following a disputed referendum in
the Black Sea peninsula on Sunday in which Crimea's leaders
declared a Soviet-style, 97-percent vote to secede from
Within hours, the Crimean parliament formally asked that
Russia "admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with
the status of a republic". Putin will on Tuesday address a
special joint session of Russia's State Duma, or parliament,
which could take a decision on annexation of the majority
That would dismember Ukraine, a former Soviet republic once
under Moscow's thumb, against its will. Kiev and the West
said the referendum, held under armed Russian occupation,
violated Ukraine's constitution and international law.
Russian forces took control of Crimea in late February
following the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor
Yanukovich after deadly clashes between riot police and
protesters trying to overturn his decision to spurn a trade
and cooperation deal with the EU in favour of cultivating
closer ties with Russia.
US President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on 11 Russians
and Ukrainians blamed for the seizure, including Yanukovich,
and Vladislav Surkov and Sergei Glazyev, two aides to Putin.
Putin himself, suspected in the West of trying to resurrect
as much as possible of the former Soviet Union under Russian
leadership, was not on the blacklist. A White House spokesman
declined to rule out adding him at a later stage.
Amid fears that Russia may move into eastern Ukraine where
there is a significant Russian-speaking community, Obama
warned that "further provocations" would only increase
Moscow's isolation and exact a greater toll on its economy.
"If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready
to impose further sanctions," he said.
A senior US official said Obama's order cleared the way to
sanction people associated with the arms industry and targets
"the personal wealth of cronies" of the Russian leadership.
In Brussels, the EU's 28 foreign ministers agreed to subject
21 Russian and Ukrainian officials to visa restrictions and
asset freezes for their roles in the events. They included
three Russian military commanders in Crimea and districts
bordering on Ukraine.
There were only three names in common on the US and European
lists - Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, Crimean
parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov and Leonid Slutski,
chairman of the Russian Duma's committee on the Russian-led
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), grouping former
Soviet republics. The EU blacklisted Yanukovich earlier this
The US list appeared to target higher-profile Russian
officials close to Putin, including a deputy Russian prime
minister, while the EU went for mid-ranking officials who may
have been more directly involved on the ground.
Washington and Brussels said further steps could follow in
the coming days if Russia does not back down and formally
A senior Obama administration official said there was
"concrete evidence" that some ballots in the Crimea
referendum arrived in some Crimean cities pre-marked.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was named
on the White House sanctions list, suggested that the
measures would not affect those without assets abroad.
Obama said Russian forces must end "incursions" into its
ex-Soviet neighbour, while Putin renewed his accusation that
the new leadership in Kiev, brought to power by the uprising
that toppled his elected Ukrainian ally last month, were
failing to protect Russian-speakers from violent Ukrainian
Moscow responded to Western pressure for an international
"contact group" to mediate in the crisis by proposing a
"support group" of states. This would push for recognition of
the Crimean referendum and urge a new constitution for rump
Ukraine that would require it to uphold political and
While a Western diplomat said some of the Russian ideas may
offer scope for negotiation, Ukraine's interim president
ruled out ever accepting the annexation of its territory.
A complete preliminary count of Sunday's vote showed that
96.77 percent of voters opted to join Russia, the chairman of
the regional government commission overseeing the referendum,
Mikhail Malyshev, announced on television.
Officials said the turnout was 83 percent. Crimea is home to
2 million people. Members of the ethnic Ukrainian and Muslim
Tatar minorities had said they would boycott the poll, held
just weeks after Russian forces took control of the
Putin's popularity at home has been boosted by his action on
Crimea despite serious risks for a stagnant economy.
Russian shares and the rouble rebounded as investors
calculated that Western sanctions would be largely symbolic
and would avoid trade or financial measures that would
inflict significant economic damage.
However, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said EU
countries had begun discussing the need for Europe to reduce
its reliance on Russian energy "over many years to come".
Much of that energy is shipped through gas pipelines crossing
Germany, the EU's biggest economy, gets 40 percent of its gas
from Moscow and could become more dependent as it switches
from nuclear power.
In a sign of possible internal debates ahead, euro zone
newcomer Latvia said the EU should compensate any countries
hurt by sanctions against Russia. The three former Soviet
Baltic states, home to Russian-speaking minorities and
dependent on Russian energy supplies, could suffer in any
Moscow defended the takeover of Crimea by citing a right to
protect "peaceful citizens". Ukraine's interim government has
mobilised troops to defend against an invasion of its eastern
mainland, where pro-Russian protesters have been involved in
deadly clashes in recent days.
The Ukrainian parliament on Monday endorsed a presidential
decree for a partial military mobilisation to call up 40,000
reservists to counter Russia' military actions. Ukraine
recalled its ambassador from Moscow for consultations.
Russia's lower house of parliament will pass legislation
allowing Crimea to join Russia "in the very near future",
news agency Interfax cited its deputy speaker as saying.
US and European officials say military action is unlikely
over Crimea, which Soviet rulers handed to Ukraine 60 years
But the risk of a wider incursion, with Putin calculating the
West will not respond as he tries to restore Moscow's hold
over its old Soviet empire, leaves NATO wondering how to help
Kiev without igniting a wider conflict.
For now, the West's main tools appear to be escalating
economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
Highlighting the stakes, journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, who is
close to the Kremlin, stood before an image of a mushroom
cloud on his weekly TV show to issue a stark warning. He
said: "Russia is the only country in the world that is
realistically capable of turning the United States into
Many Tatars, who make up 12 percent of Crimea's population,
boycotted the vote, fearful of a revival of the persecution
they suffered for centuries under Soviet rule from Moscow.
"This is my land. This is the land of my ancestors. Who asked
me if I want it or not?" said Shevkaye Assanova, a Tatar in
her 40s. "I don't recognise this at all."
A pressing concern for the governments in Kiev and Moscow is
the transfer of control of Ukrainian military bases. Many are
surrounded by and under control of Russian forces, even
though Moscow denies it has troops in the territory beyond
facilities it leases for its important Black Sea Fleet.
Crimea's parliamentary speaker said on Monday that Ukrainian
military units in the region would be disbanded, though
personnel would be allowed to remain on the Black Sea
Ukraine's border guard service accused Russian troops of
evicting the families of their officers from their apartments
in Crimea and mistreating their wives and children.