Crimea expected to vote to join Russia in referendum

|By:, SA News Editor

Almost 2M Crimeans are going to the polls today in a referendum over whether to join Russia or to stay in Ukraine but take on a wide autonomous status that would facilitate a break-away later on.

The measure doesn't offer maintaining the status quo and is expected to pass, although the West has said it doesn't recognize the referendum and has been preparing limited sanctions that will take effect on Monday.

Ahead of the ballot, Russian troops entered parts of Ukraine that are outside Crimea for the first time, increasing fears that Russia will invade its neighbor.

Russian companies have been withdrawing billions of dollars from western banks on concerns that any international sanctions could lead to an asset freeze, the FT reports. NY Fed data shows that in the week to March 12, foreign holdings of U.S. Treasurys at the Federal Reserve dropped by a record $105B to a 15-month low of $2.855T, prompting speculation that tied Russia to the move.

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