- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2014

Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine prompted a fast and supportive response on Monday from Moscow, where leaders said they are eager to act toward incorporating the peninsula into territorial Russia.

The Chairman of the State Duma — the main Russian parliamentary body — said Moscow will act “swiftly and responsibly” to make necessary decisions relating to Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

The remarks by Sergei Naryshkin were reported Monday by Interfax, a private news agency in Russia, and come against the backdrop of spiking popularity for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While it may be debatable that Mr. Putin’s image among Russians can be explicitly tied to the events unfolding in Ukraine, his approval rating increased to 71.6 percent last week — the highest it has been since he returned to the Russian presidency in 2012.

The rating, based on a poll by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion, was first reported by The New York Times, which noted that the bump in popularity for Mr. Putin came not only in the midst of the Crimean crisis, but also on the heels of the Sochi Olympics.

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