MOSCOW, March 18 (RAPSI) – On Tuesday, leaders of the Autonomous Republic of Crime and Russiam Presdient Vladimir Putin signed a treaty unifying Crimea with Russia.

The Russian parliament is expected to ratify the treaty later on Tuesday.

Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking republic within Ukraine, was part of Russia until it was gifted to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954. President Putin said in his address that the decision was made with evident violations of the constitutional norms prevailing at the time.

Putin signed a decree Monday recognizing Crimea as an independent state, following a referendum Sunday that saw voters overwhelmingly support secession from Ukraine and reunification with Russia.

Crimea’s leadership has refused to recognize as legitimate the new government in Ukraine that came to power following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich last month.
The US and EU imposed sanctions Monday on senior Russian officials, including visa bans and asset freezes, in protest of Russian support of Crimea's actions.

On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers will consider imposing reciprocal sanctions against the US and EU.