On Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to formally absorb the Republic of Crimea and city of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.
This completes the ratification process of a treaty signed by Putin on Tuesday.
“Moving forward, we’ll need to put a lot of work into adopting Crimea and bringing it in line with the Russian Federation’s constitution, economy and social system,” said the president.
Earlier in the day, The Federation Council – Russia’s upper house of parliament – unanimously approved the treaty, clearing the way for Putin to sign it into law.
An integration period of some nine months is expected to follow.
Meanwhile, in Sevastopol, Crimean residents have been queueing up to exchange their Ukrainian passports for Russian ones.
Svetlana, who lives in the city was looking forward to the alliance.
“It won’t be worse, it will be much better,” she said. “At least living standards are much higher in Russia than they are in Ukraine. Salaries and pensions are our future and the future of young people. And it speaks volumes that a lot of the young people here support Crimea joining Russia and all of us here voted for this in the referendum.”
Inna, another Sevastopol resident, was happy to exchange her passport.
“We are in Russia. We are Russian citizens now, so what do we need Ukrainian passports for?” she asked. “We’ll exchange them with great pleasure. My child needs to get a passport, too.”
Until the signing of the treaty, the Russian Federation consisted of 83 federal subjects. Crimea and the city of Sevastopol will become numbers 84 and 85 respectively.
The Crimean port city of Sevastopol is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Pro-Russian forces are now in control of the peninsula, which has an ethnic Russian majority and voted for union with Russia in the recent, controversial referendum.
Russia insists its actions are legitimate, but Ukraine’s parliament has said Kyiv will never stop fighting for Crimea.