Voting is underway in Crimea’s controversial referendum.
It is widely expected to transfer control of the Black Sea region from Ukraine to Russia, despite an outcry and threat of sanctions from the West.
The vote and pro-Russian troops’ intervention in Crimea
have triggered the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
The referendum has been organised by Crimea’s regional assembly which backs union with Russia.
The electorate are choosing between two options which both imply control from the Kremlin.
Many of the ethnic Russians who form the majority on the peninsula seem likely to back the first choice on the ballot, union with Russia, if only for economic reasons.
A second option is independence, initially within Ukraine but Crimea’s new leaders say they will use this as a basis for accepting Russian rule.