Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
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(CNN) - A separatist leader declared Monday that eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region was not only independent, but also would ask to join Russia - a day after referendum organizers claim voters in the region chose to break away from Kiev.
Denis Pushilin, self-declared leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, told a crowd that no further referendum was needed to ask Russia to annex it.
Pro-Russian separatists held a referendum Sunday asking residents of the Donetsk region whether it should declare independence from Ukraine. Nearly 90% of voters in the area favored secession, an election official said Monday.
Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) – Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine have decided to go ahead with a Sunday referendum on greater local powers, they said Thursday, defying a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone the vote.
Putin had urged the pro-Russia sympathizers to delay the referendum to give dialogue "the conditions it needs to have a chance."
Representatives from the council of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic and separatists from Luhansk told reporters they have voted to press ahead to ask eastern Ukrainians there if they want sovereignty from Kiev.
Mariupol, Ukraine (CNN) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he wants a delay in a referendum on whether certain eastern Ukrainian residents want sovereignty from Kiev and that presidential elections scheduled for this month are "a step in the right direction."
But he added that the planned May 25 presidential vote Kiev wants to hold would "not solve anything unless all of Ukraine's people first understand how their rights will be guaranteed" once the election has taken place.
The comments, according to a transcript published by the Kremlin, came after Putin met with the chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Wednesday.