In a result that was never in doubt, Crimean citizens overwhelmingly voted Sunday to join Russia, a vote that has been condemned by Ukraine and western powers as illegal..
According to exit polls, 93% of voters chose to join with Russia, exceeding even the highest projections, which had estimated 70-80%.
The Crimean peninsula is heavily Russian and has strong cultural, ethnic, and linguistic ties to Russia, which in turn considers it rightfully a part of the Russian Federation. However, the area has been a semi-autonomous region under Ukrainian control since the middle of the Cold War, until Russia invaded two weeks ago after the overthrow of the Putin-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
The referendum asked if Crimea wanted to join Russia or be granted autonomy; no option was given to maintain the status quo.
On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and told him the U.S. would not accept the results of the referendum. Meanwhile, Crimean Taters, whose abuse at the hands of Russia has left them opposed to Russian control, largely sat the vote out.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed on a truce until March 21, though tanks for both militaries moved toward each other on Sunday.
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