MOSCOW - MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, confirming that Russia plans to make the southern Ukrainian region part of Russia. It said he would sign the treaty with Crimea's leader.
Putin signed an order on Monday "to approve the draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on adopting the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation".
The order was part of a series of steps to bring Crimea into Russia after voters there approved the move in a weekend referendum that Ukraine and the West have called denounced by Ukraine and the West as illegal.
The decree, which took effect immediately, says Moscow recognition of Crimea as independent is based on "the will of the people of Crimea".
Crimea's leaders declared a Soviet-style 97-percent result in favor of seceding from Ukraine in a vote condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West. The Crimean parliament formally proposed that Russia "admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic".
Putin will address the issue at a special joint session of the Russian parliament on Tuesday.
For its part, Ukraine's acting president on Monday said Kiev was ready for talks with Russia on Moscow's takeover of Crimea, but it would never accept annexation of the peninsula.
"We are ready for talks, but will never be reconciled with the annexation of our territory," Oleksander Turchinov said in a televised address to the nation.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry earlier rejected a Russian proposal to create a contact group to mediate in the crisis and suggest changes to Ukraine's constitution.
In his address, Turchinov also said that any actions inciting mass disorder in Ukraine would been viewed as "abetting the military aggressor and a crime against the state".
On the ground, Ukraine, has built a defensive trench complete with concrete barriers along its long border with Russia, its governor said on Monday. The eastern region of Ukraine is dominated by Russian-speakers and has been buffeted by rallies by pro-Russian activists,
Sergei Taruta also said measures would be taken to restore order in the region in the aftermath of Russia's takeover of Crimea after pro-Russian demonstrators overwhelmed police and stormed public buildings.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he reserves the right, after the takeover of Crimea, to protect eastern Ukraine's Russian-speaking majority from what Moscow says are right-wing allies of the pro-Western government in Kiev. Ukraine's defence minister says 60,000 Russian troops are massed on the border.
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