MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin defiantly signed a draft treaty making Crimea part of Russia Tuesday, despite the threat of even more U.S. sanctions against his country.
The document was signed in front of cameras and cheering lawmakers gathered in the Kremlin. It is expected to be ratified later by Russia’s parliament.
Crimea’s new Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, parliamentary speaker Vladimir Konstantinov and Sevastopol Mayor Oleksiy Chaly also signed the document.
The signing came after an impassioned address from Putin in which he attacked the West over its handling of the Ukraine crisis.
Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in Sunday's referendum, which was condemned by the Ukrainian government and its allies as illegitimate.
The U.S. and E.U. responded to the referendum Monday by imposing asset freezes and travel bans on Russian and Ukrainian officials.
Lawmakers are expected to consider Friday whether to ratify the treaty, although this could happen sooner in light of Putin’s rapid efforts to secure Russian control of the peninsula.
Alastair Jamieson and Alexander Smith contributed to this report from London.
First published March 18 2014, 6:39 AM
Albina Kovalyova is a Moscow producer and reporter for NBC News. She started this role in June 2013. Kovalyova is responsible for covering Russia and the former Soviet Bloc. She reports to Chris Hampson, international news director.
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Kovalyova joined NBC News after working as a freelance television documentary producer/director for BBC World News where she made films about Russia and the former Soviet Bloc -- including Ukraine and Belarus. Her documentary about the Belarus Free Theatre was showcased at the One World Documentary Film Festival in Prague and was screened in various venues around the world, including the Russian division of the prestigious Frontline Club. Her documentary about Russia's gas heartland, Yamal, took part in an Arctic Documentary Film Festival in St. Petersburg in 2012.
Kovalyova also worked as a television producer for Reuters Television in Moscow where she covered the latest parliamentary and presidential elections, and opposition demonstrations during this time. She has interviewed Alexei Navalny and various other opposition figures. She also worked together with photographer Denis Sinyakov to produce a three-part television series looking at the lives of migrant workers from Central Asia in Russia. In 2012, she received exclusive access to Russia's submarine shipyard in Severodvinsk and co-wrote a feature on Russia's Arctic ambitions with Alissa De Carbonnel.
Kovalyova has also worked at on various BBC television and radio projects, at the Voice of America Moscow Bureau where she reported on the rise of Russian nationalism, and from the Moscow court during the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. She has also worked at Sky News as a deputy news editor and as a radio presenter at the Voice of Russia. Prior to that Albina was a writer for the analytical journal Russia Profile.