Defying President Obama and other world leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday moved toward the annexation of Crimea by declaring it a sovereign country independent of Ukraine.
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The Kremlin said Putin’s decree recognizes the will of the Crimean people, who voted Sunday to join Russia in a referendum that the United States has declared illegal and illegitimate.

President Obama on Monday called the referendum “a clear violation of the Ukrainian constitution and international law” and announced a series of economic sanctions and travel restrictions aimed at Russian government officials, including some of Putin’s top advisers.

“We’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world,” Obama said at the White House.

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