In a referendum vote that shouldn’t come as a surprise, the numbers coming out of the Crimea referendum vote appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of leaving Ukraine.
Granted, the initial reports are coming from Russian state TV. With over half the votes counted, 95.5 percent had chosen the option of annexation by Moscow, the head of the referendum commission, Mikhail Malyshev, said two hours after polls closed.
According to Malyshev, he turnout was very high, around 83 percent. On some levels, that number may seem almost too high considering that many who opposed the move had said they would boycott the vote. On the other hand, as we have reported, Crimea is largely Russian speaking and made up of a population which is vastly of Russian heritage.
The United States, the E.U. and NATO had preemptively denounced the referendum as being illegitimate and a violation of international law. Those claims are not slowing Russia which has deployed about 60,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, the government in Kiev said.
Reports from the region indicate that the new Ukraine government has closed border crossings to Russia and will mobilize as many as 15,000 volunteers in the next 15 days to defend the nation.