By Mike Collett-White and Ronald Popeski
SIMFEROPOL/KIEV (Reuters) – Russian state media said Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia on Sunday, as Kiev accused Moscow of pouring forces into the peninsula and warned separatist leaders “the ground will burn under their feet”.
With over half the votes counted, 95.5 percent had chosen the option of annexation by Moscow, the head of the referendum commission, Mikhail Malyshev, said two hours after polls closed. Turnout was 83 percent, he added – a high figure given that many who opposed the move had said they would boycott the vote.
Western powers and leaders in Kiev denounced it as a sham.