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Russia says will complete legal moves to absorb Crimea this week

Thursday, 20 March 2014 - 12:36pm IST | Place: Moscow | Agency: Reuters

  • Crimea-celebrations-in-moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the podium during a rally to celebrate the incorporation of Crimea at the Red Square in Moscow, on March 18, 2014. Putin pushed every emotional button of the collective Russian psyche as he justified the incorporation of Crimea, citing everything from ancient history to Russia's demand for respect to Western double standards. AFP

The legal process required to make Crimea part of Russia will be completed this week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, two days after President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to bring the Ukrainian region into Russia.

"Practical steps are being taken to implement the agreements on the entry of Crimea and (the Crimean port city of) Sevastopol into Russia," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as saying. "The legal process will be completed this week."

Russia's lower house of parliament plans to ratify the treaty on Thursday, and to adopt legislation to make Crimea and Sevastopol regions of Russia. The upper house plans to do the same on Friday.

Both chambers are loyal to Putin and there is no chance the measures will fail. The treaty says that it enters into force upon ratification, and that Crimea will be fully integrated into Russia after a transition period ending on Jan. 1.

Russia's moves to annex the Black Sea peninsula has turned a confrontation with Europe and the United States into the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on officials and lawmakers deemed involved in the annexation, partially suspended military and trade ties and threatened more punitive measures if Putin does not reverse course.

Voters in Crimea, which has a narrow ethnic Russian majority, overwhelmingly favoured joining Russia in a weekend referendum Ukraine's government and the West say was illegal.

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