Aaron Schachter: The US had threatened to slap Russia with sanctions if the secession referendum went ahead yesterday in Crimea. It did and President Obama today followed through on his threat. We'll hear more on those new US sanctions in a few minutes but first we turn to Russia's response, which is, in essence, to thumb it's nose at Washington. Just hours after Obama announced his sanctions, the Kremlin announced that Russian Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent nation. That's seen as a step toward Russian annexation. Putin is not the only Russian official publicly defying the White House. Here's Russian Senator Andrey Klimov telling the BBC that the people of Crimea have a right to determine their own future.
Andrey Klimov: Those people, they never gave their rights to Washington or to Brussels.
Schachter: That sentiment is echoed not just in Crimea but by many in parts of eastern Ukraine as well. So there's concern about what could happen there. The BBC's Olga Ivshina is in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
Olga Ivshina: Many people here, both historically and culturally have strong ties with Russia and also economically and demographically. They do associate themselves with Russia and with Russian culture. Some of them fear that the new government in Kiev won't respect these historic and cultural ties. They're afraid that they won't be allowed to speak their own language, to practice their traditions, to maintain close ties with Russia. They're afraid that the government in Kiev is actually a nationalistic one that is supporting fascism. That's why people are protesting quite harshly.
Schachter: One of the things we heard with the vote in Crimea was that pro-Russian forces in the media were really hyping the idea of splitting from Ukraine. What does the media look like where you are there in eastern Ukraine?
Ivshina: There is a feeling of an informational war, a media war going on. My crew is constantly asked "which channel do we work for?" and the reaction sometimes is quite strong. Sometimes people accuse of us of being spies, accuse us of betraying Russia and by my accent they can judge that I'm from Russia myself. When they hear that they say "oh, you're our Russian sister. Thanks for coming. Save us. Take us to Russia as soon as possible," so it is quite divided and it is quite black and white unfortunately.
Schachter: You've said that you're kind of accosted from both sides, the pro-Russia, the pro-Kiev forces. Can you get a handle of how people are feeling there when they look at what happened in Crimea over the weekend. Is it frightening, is it inspiring - where do people stand, do you think?
Ivshina: It depends. Most of the people here feel quite inspired by Crimean example and many of them have told us that they want to join Russia too. But if you talk to Ukrainians, some of them say that they are actually frightened by the actions of Moscow. They feel unsafe now, especially in the eastern regions.
Schachter: Do you think there will be a referendum there in eastern Ukraine as well?
Ivshina: I have been working in Ukraine for the past three months and "unpredictable" is the best word to describe the situation here. Each time we think the crisis is over and that it's all going to calm down, something else happens. If you told me a month ago that there would be a referendum in Crimea, I wouldn't believe you, so it's very hard to predict what will happen.
Schachter: The BBC's Olga Ivshina is in Donetsk in Ukraine. Olga, thanks for speaking with us.
Ivshina: Thank you.