Donetsk: Pro-Russia insurgents in Ukraine's Donetsk region declared independence today and asked to join Russia, a day after holding a hastily arranged vote on separatism that Ukraine's government and its western allies said violated international law.
The Kremlin had no immediate response today to the annexation request, but issued a statement earlier in the day that urged Ukraine's government in Kiev to hold talks with the pro-Russia insurgents in the east.
Organisers said about 90 per cent of those who cast ballots yesterday in Donetsk and the neighbouring Luhansk region backed sovereignty for the sprawling areas that lie along Russia's border and form Ukraine's industrial heartland.
Donetsk has about 4.4 million people and Luhansk has 2.2 million.
Insurgents in the Luhansk region stopped short of mimicking the move made by their kin in Donetsk, but spokesman Vasily Nikitin said the Luhansk region will not vote in Ukraine's May 25 presidential election.
Ukraine's central government and the West have completely rejected yesterday's insurgent vote and accused Moscow of fomenting weeks of unrest in eastern Ukraine in a possible attempt to grab more land after annexing Crimea in March, accusations that Russia has denied.
“The farce, which terrorists call the referendum, will have no legal consequences except the criminal responsibility for its organisers,” Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement.