Kremlin seeks talks for Ukraine, not annexation

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.

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