Ukraine’s parliament has warned Crimea’s regional assembly it will be dissolved unless it cancels a referendum over joining Russia.
Kyiv said Crimea had until wednesday to call it off.
Meanwhile the Crimean Parliament stated on Tuesday it would declare itself an independent state if people vote in favour of joining Russia. It would then officially ask to become part of the Russian federation.
In a secret sitting, MPs voted 78 to 3 in favour of a declaration of independence from Ukraine. The declaration cites Kosovo’s separation from Serbia as a legal precedent.
The city of Sevastopol is also taking part in the referendum although according to the constitution of Ukraine it does not fall under the administration of Crimea but Kyiv. However it is currently occupied by pro-Russian forces and is the base of the Russian fleet
The referendum is due to be held on March 16.