Welcome to our live coverage as President Vladimir Putin prepares to address the full Russian parliament on Crimea's bid to become part of Russia. He is reported to have approved a draft bill to enable Crimea's "entry into the Russian Federation", which would mean separation from Ukraine.
Russian government ministers and MPs have taken their seats in a giant hall in the Kremlin, ready for President Putin's speech, which will be televised nationally. In it he is expected to stake Russia's claim to Crimea. For centuries the peninsula was part of the Russian empire, before 1954.
President Putin has just started speaking to the full parliament. There was prolonged applause when he mentioned officials and residents from Crimea who are attending the special event.
Mr Putin says the result of the Crimea referendum on Sunday was "more than convincing". Crimean officials say 97% of voters backed splitting from Ukraine. The vote has not been recognised internationally.
The European Union and the US have begun imposing sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian individuals following the disputed referendum in Crimea. Click here to find out what international action is Russia facing.
Mr Putin says Crimea has "sacred" places, symbols of military glory, and that the different ethnic groups have worked together in harmony in Crimea.
The Russian leader adds that most of the other groups are also oriented towards Russia. He mentions that Crimean Tatars were unjustly repressed in the past. He says measures should be taken to finish rehabilitation of the Tatars who returned to Crimea from internal exile.
Mr Putin condemns the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, in Soviet times. He says it was a decision taken unconstitutionally, behind the scenes.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the situation was so difficult that Russians "couldn't really protect our interests", Mr Putin says. But he says people were not prepared to put up with "this historical injustice" - referring to the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine.
The Crimea of Russia's imagination: Artist Ruth Maclennan explains why the peninsula has gained such huge significance in the Russian psyche.