Russia's President Vladimir Putin has formally informed the parliament of Crimea's request for rejoining the country in a move required by the Russian constitution.
Putin has already recognized Crimea as an independent state, defying the US and its Western allies that want the region to remain part of Ukraine. On Monday, US President Barack Obama froze the assets of seven Russian officials over their support for the Crimea secession referendum. That sparked angry responses from several Russian officials including the speaker of the upper house of parliament, Putin's top aid, and deputy prime minister. Nearly 97 percent of voters in Crimea have voted in favor of breaking away from Ukraine and rejoining Russia