Lawmakers in the contested Crimea region of Ukraine voted on Tuesday to declare the peninsula an independent and autonomous state if residents vote in favor of splitting from Ukraine in a coming referendum.
The local parliament adopted a “declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” if residents voted in favor of leaving Ukraine. The state would be “a democratic, secular and multiethnic state,” read the declaration, in an apparent move to ease concerns over ethnic divisions within Crimea. The move may also be an attempt to ease tensions over Russia moving to annex Crimea, and instead allow the Black Sea peninsula to exist as a self-proclaimed state.
Meanwhile, Russian troops have continued to tighten their control over the Crimea region in the run-up to Sunday’s referendum. And on Wednesday, Ukraine’s parliament will be voting on a motion to mobilize its Interior Ministry troops into a national guard “to defend the country and citizens against any criminals, against external and internal aggression.” All flights to the airport in Crimea were suspended on Tuesday except for those from Moscow, AFP reports.