TODAY   |  March 15, 2014

Tensions rise ahead of Crimea’s secession vote

After diplomacy breakdowns and threats of costly international sanctions, many are bracing for the possible change that could come as the Crimean peninsula votes to secede from Ukraine. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> in ukraine , where tensions are at an all-time high ahead of a crucial vote tomorrow. will crimea decide to break away from ukraine and join russia ? richard engel is in ukraine this morning and joins us now with more. richard, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, jenna. preparations are under way for this weekend's referendum, when the people of crimea will decide whether they want to stay with ukraine or break away and join up with russia , but the results may already be a foregone conclusion, because russian troops, thousands of them here in crimea , and pro- russia militias already control crimea . they control the airport, the parliament, the roads, the trains. the question now is, what will happen in eastern ukraine ? there is also a large russian-speaking, pro-russian population in eastern ukraine , and over the last two days, there have been violent clashes in that area. and ominously, russia has said it will do whatever is necessary to protect russian speakers in eastern ukraine . that's the same rationale that russia gave before intervening here. jenna?

>> richard engel . richard, thank you.