The decree posted on the Kremlin's website appeared to be a first step toward integrating Crimea as a part of the Russian Federation.
The decree, which took effect immediately, says Moscow recognition of Crimea as independent is based on "the will of the people of Crimea".
Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/putin-signs-decree-recognizing-crimea-sovereign-state-n54871
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