On Thursday, Crimea's parliament voted unanimously to join the Russian Federation and scheduled a referendum on the matter for March 16.

"This is our response to the disorder and lawlessness in Kiev," Sergei Shuvainikov, a member of the local Crimean legislature, told the Associated Press. "We will decide our future ourselves."

It's not clear if the decision will have any actual impact—the Ukrainian government in Kiev will almost certainly dispute its legitimacy—though it marks an escalation in the week-long crisis in Crimea.

In Brussels, the European Union held emergency sessions about Ukraine, during which it was announced that the assets of 18 people, including deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and members of his family, would be seized for embezzling state funds. From the New York Times:

Measures to freeze the assets of 18 members of the ousted government of Mr. Yanukovych came into force immediately, targeting figures including former ministers of the interior and justice, the prosecutor general, the head of the security services and two sons of Mr. Yanukovych, according to the European Union's Official Journal. The list of people affected by the measures also included former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his son.

And the United States announced new sanctions on Thursday, imposing bans on visas for Russian and Ukrainians who are "responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

[Image via AP]