Crimeans vote to leave Ukraine, join RussiaUpdated: 2014-03-17 14:41:03 (KST)
The votes are in, and the polls are now closed.
Voters in Crimea spoke with almost one voice Sunday, with the overwhelming majority voting to leave Ukraine, and join Russia.
Around three-quarters of the ballots have been counted, and officials say that some 95.5 percent approve of splitting away from Ukraine.
As the votes were counted, supporters celebrated with Russian flags and fireworks.
"Fantastic- Of course I support it. It's the correct decision. And here we also want to hold a referendum and become a part of Russia, because people are already fed up"
Opponents of the union and those loyal to Ukraine, boycotted the referendum, and denounced the vote as a power play by Russia.
"This Crimean referendum cannot be true. It should be a referendum for all Ukranians. It's not a referendum, it's a theatrical performance for Russian people where Russia is legalizing the takeover of these territories."
The referendum offered voters the choice of joining Russiaor remaining in Ukraine with greater autonomy.
The White House says it will not accept the referendum, which was illegal and called on Russia to support an international monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine.
The European Union also said the vote will not be recognized.
EU foreign ministers are expected to meet on Monday to consider imposing sanctions on Russian officials.
The referendum came just two weeks after Russian troops seized control of the Crimea peninsula.
Connie Lee, Arirang News.
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