Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognizing the Republic of Crimea as an independent state, the Kremlin press service has reported, according to Ukrinform.

"Taking into account the will of the people in Crimea at an all-Crimean referendum, which was held on March 16, 2014, the Republic of Crimea, in which the city of Sevastopol has a special status, is recognized as a sovereign and independent state. The decree enters into force on the date of its signature," reads the report.

Today, March 18, at 15.00 Moscow time, Putin will address State Duma deputies, Federation Council members, the governors of Russian regions and civil society representatives in connection with an appeal from the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to be included into the Russian Federation.