Pro-Russian lawmakers in Crimea moved forward today with a plan to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, scheduling a referendum for March 16 to let voters decide the fate of the Black Sea peninsula and adding yet another wrinkle into the increasingly complicated situation in Eastern Europe. Here's the New York Times on where things with the West's diplomatic efforts to bring things under control in the region:
The developments came as leaders of the European Union held emergency talks in Brussels to reinforce support for the national government in Kiev and to look for ways to press President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, one of the most serious East-West confrontations since the Cold War.
Earlier, the 28-nation bloc announced measures to freeze the assets of the Russian-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovych, and of 17 of his closest aides and family members, holding them responsible for the embezzlement of state funds. The Official Journal of the European Union, which lists the body’s decisions, said that “all funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled by” Mr. Yanukovych, two of his sons and his associates on European Union soil “shall be frozen.” Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia as his foes moved to depose him in Ukraine.
The new Ukrainian government, with the backing of its European neighbors, are contesting the Crimean referendum, arguing that it violates the nation's constitution and that any vote to change the nation's territorial sovereignty must be put to a vote of all Ukrainians, not just those in Crimea. Russian lawmakers, meanwhile, quickly introduced legislation in Moscow to clear the way for Crimea to join the Russian Federation if the referendum goes as they hope.
For much more on the unfolding crisis, head on over to The World.