December 18, 2014
Putin signs laws annexing Crimea
President Vladimir Putin signed laws completing Russia's annexation of Crimea today, as investors took fright at a US decision to slap sanctions on his inner circle of money men and security officials.
Putin promised to protect a bank partly owned by an old ally, which Washington has blacklisted, and his spokesman said Russia would respond in kind to the financial and visa curbs.
Russian shares fell sharply after President Barack Obama also threatened on Thursday to target major sectors of the economy if Moscow tried to move on other areas of Ukraine beyond the Black Sea peninsula.
Europe also tightened the screws by widening its sanctions list, and Germany suspended approval of all defence-related exports to Russia, ordering defence contractor Rheinmetall to halt delivery of combat simulation gear. France suspended military cooperation with Moscow.
In a Kremlin ceremony shown live on state television, Putin signed a law on ratification of a treaty making Crimea part of Russia as well as legislation creating two new Russian administrative districts: Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol, where Moscow keeps part of its Black Sea fleet.