Russia officially absorbed Crimea on the afternoon of March 18. This came just moments after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that he has no plans for seizing any other territory in Ukraine. Nonetheless, Russian troops remain in place at a natural gas loading facility located in Ukraine, near the border with Crimea.
Speaking to a joint session of Russia's Duma, or parliament, Putin extolled the “reunification” of Crimea with Russia. Putin said that Crimea has a special and unique role in Russian history. It was added to Russia during the reign of Czarina Catherine the Great in the 1700s and was relinquished in 1954 to Ukraine by Soviet premier Nikita Krushchev.
Speaking to the parliamentarians, Putin said "I ask you to consider the adoption of two new subjects of the Federation: Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.”Crimea was represented by Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov and Sevastopol mayor Aleksey Chaly. Both of them signed the treaty. Also on hand from Crimea was a top official, Vladimir Konstantinov.
“Since the adoption of the Russian Federation Republic of Crimea in structure of the Russian Federation two new entities - of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Federal importance Sevastopol – have been created,” declared the treaty. The document will be sent for approval to Russia's constitutional court, and then to ratification in the parliaments of the two countries. In an early sign of joining Russia, Crimea had already officially introduced the Russian ruble as a second currency along with the Ukrainian hryvna. The latter will remain an official currency until January 1, 2016. A transition period will commence on January 1, 2015.
Following the Duma session that brought together leaders of the respective parliaments of Russia and Crimea, the treaty of accession was signed immediately after Putin's speech. Moscow has declared that the treaty is now in force, even while the treaty has not yet been ratified.