SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine/BRUSSELS | Crimea’s parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum in 10 days’ time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian region that drew a sharp riposte from U.S. President Barack Obama.
Obama ordered sanctions on those responsible for Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, including bans on travel to the United States and freezing of their U.S. assets.
He echoed European Union leaders and the pro-Western government in Ukraine in declaring that the proposed referendum would violate international law.
The sudden acceleration of moves to bring Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority and has effectively been seized by Russian forces, formally under Moscow’s rule came as EU leaders held an emergency summit groping for ways to pressure Russia to back down and accept mediation.
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