Russian President Vladimir Putin has formally notified the government and the parliament of a request by Crimea to join Russia.
On Tuesday, in a move required by the Russian constitution, Putin informed the government and both chambers of the parliament of the request.
The move by the Russian president came ahead of his speech in the afternoon, when he is expected to address the request.
President Putin has recognized Crimea as a “sovereign and independent country.”
The recognition came hours after the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials over their support for the Crimea secession referendum on Monday.
Nearly 97 percent of voters in Crimea voted on March 16 to secede from Ukraine in favor of joining Russia.
US President Barack Obama issued an executive order that imposes sanctions on 11 Russian, Crimean, and Ukrainian individuals for “contributing to the situation in Ukraine.”
Obama’s order freezes any assets of the officials that are inside the United States or “hereafter come within the United States.” The order also bans the individuals from travelling to the United States.
The European Union has also imposed sanctions on 21 individuals, including three senior Russian commanders, the prime minister of Crimea, a deputy speaker of the Duma and other senior officials.
The imposition of sanctions sparked angry responses from several Russian officials, including the speaker of the Upper House of parliament Valentina Matviyenko, who called it an “unprecedented” decision that had not even been made during the Cold War.