More of the same. Via the Kremlin:
- PUTIN, MERKEL DISCUSSED UKRAINE CRISIS BY PHONE, KREMLIN SAYS
- PUTIN TELLS MERKEL RUSSIA WILL RESPECT CHOICE MADE BY CRIMEANS
- PUTIN SAYS CONCERNED ABOUT TENSIONS IN SOUTH, EAST UKRAINE
- PUTIN TELLS MERKEL CRIMEA REFERENDUM ON JOINING RUSSIA IS LEGAL
Even as the West (and NATO) continues to reject any legitimacy of the referendum.
More from Reuters:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin more Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers should be sent to Ukraine, a plan he welcomed, Merkel's spokesman said on Sunday.
"The chancellor proposed swiftly expanding the existing OSCE presence in Ukraine and sending a bigger number of observers into hot spots, especially in East Ukraine," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement about a phone call between the two leaders.
"The Russian president viewed this initiative positively. He promised he would instruct Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov accordingly."
This should be agreed with as broad as possible support at an OSCE meeting in Vienna on Monday.
Merkel also condemned a Russian attempt on Saturday to try to enter a spit of land belonging to Kherson, a region adjacent to Crimea, Seibert said in the statement.
So what happens when the people vote - either in a rigged process or otherwise - to join Russia, Russia formally annexes the territory and calls the western diplomatic bluff? The answer may be provided as early as 8pm local Ukrainian time when the polls are set to close, and it will likely involve further provocations such as this one, reported moments ago by Sky News: "Interfax reports three Ukrainian military trains carrying equipment into eastern Ukraine have been intercepted by Russian forces."