Members of Crimean Parliament have voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, taking the very step Ukraine's interim government has been fearing since tensions arose in the region. They have also called for a public referendum on the issue in less than two weeks.
The MPs said they would like "to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation," and await approval from Moscow for the request. The Crimean people, many of whom are Russian speaking or of Russian descent, will have a chance to vote on the motion on March 16. One member of parliament, Sergei Shuvainikov, explained to the Associated Press that "this is our response to the disorder and lawlessness in Kiev. We will decide our future for ourselves."
Crimean officials are also saying they plan to introduce the Russia rouble as the local currency and is even threatening to "nationalize" Ukrainian state-owned property.
According to Crimea's new leader Sergei Aksyono, more than 11,000 pro-Russia troops are currently occupying the region, controlling access to the peninsula and blocking military bases. Clashes have also continued throughout the region, as competing activists attempt to storm and re-storm government buildings.