Turning now to the latest on the Ukraine crisis…
Russia’s lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine,
with just one deputy voting against. The upper house is expected to complete ratification
on Friday and President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders will ink it early next week.
The annexation treaty stipulates that Crimea will be fully integrated into Russia after
a transition period ending on January 1st. Also Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
met with President Putin at the Kremlin urging for a peaceful settlement to the crisis.
The UN chief travels to Kiev on Friday to deliver the same message.