Despite the likelihood of sparking a new "cold war" and isolating Russia from economic, social, and political relations with many nations of the world, President Vladimir Putin today (March 18, 2014) brazenly signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into Russia, the Euro News website reports.
It comes after last Sunday's referendum in Crimea, which saw overwhelming support for a union with Russia. Putin signed the law after a speech to a joint session of Russia's parliament, in which he hit back at his critics.
He condemned Ukraine's so-called authorities, saying they had stolen power in a coup and had opened the way for "extremists" who would stop at nothing to determine the future of the country.
Putin added that Moscow sees Western attempts to frighten Russia with sanctions as aggression, and that Russia will retaliate.
The Crimean parliament had declared independence from Ukraine after the region's referendum on Sunday. That saw a massive 97 percent of Crimea's voters back a break-away from Ukraine.