Putin recognizes Crimean independence

A local teenager waves with Russian flag in a street in Simferopol, Ukraine, on Monday, March 17, 2014. Ukraine's Crimean peninsula declared itself independent Monday after its residents voted overwhelmingly to secede and join Russia, while the United States and the European Union slapped sanctions against some of those who promoted the divisive referendum. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ignoring the toughest sanctions against Moscow since the end of the Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as an “independent and sovereign country” on Monday, a bold challenge to Washington that escalates one of Europe’s worst security crises in years.

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