Swiss President and OSCE chairperson in office Didier Burkhalter gestures as he talks with the media, after he met with EU foreign ministers, at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, May 12, 2014. European Union foreign ministers are considering adding more people to its Ukraine sanctions list but are not expected to go beyond visa bans and asset freezes before the May 25 elections in the east European nation.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
By PETER LEONARD
and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
DONETSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine's Donetsk region are declaring it an independent state and asking to join Russia.
The move follows a hastily organized referendum Sunday in which organizers say about 90 percent of those who cast ballots in Donetsk and the neighboring Luhansk region backed sovereignty for the sprawling areas that form Ukraine's industrial heartland.
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin to Monday's statement issued by one of the leaders of the insurgents, Denish Pushilin.
The referendum was dismissed as a sham by Ukraine and the West.