TODAY   |  March 16, 2014

Crimeans to decide whether to secede from Ukraine

Voters will have their say in a referendum Sunday on whether or not the Crimean peninsula will become the newest part of Russia. Results could be announced soon, and it’s likely the referendum will pass. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> ukraine's crimea region are voting on whether to split ouf and join russia . it's a vote that has united states very angry. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in ukraine with the latest.

>> reporter: good morning, lester. voting has begun in crimea for this ref wren dem. the people today are deciding on whether to remain as part of ukraine or break away and join up with russia . the voting is taking place mostly in schools. voters we've been talking to predominantly say they want to join up with russia . a lot of their motivation is economic. the economy of russia is stronger than the crimean economy. they hope if the people here become russian citizens they will also be entitled to russian state pensions. this cannot, however, be described as a completely open, free and fair vote. there are russian troops on the ground. there are pro russian militias that have taken over the streets, taken over the parliament building behind me. the results could be announced fairly soon. but it already seems likely that this referendum will pass and that this peninsula, the crimean peninsula could become the newest part of russia .