Despite sanctions from the U.S. and European Union targeting top Russian officials, the country's President Vladimir Putin took a step closer to annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. On Tuesday, Putin officially notified the Russian parliament and government of Crimea's request to be annexed. A Russian government website also confirmed Monday's reports that Putin had signed a draft bill effectively accepting Crimea's request to become part of Russia. In a referendum Sunday, 96.8 percent of Crimea voters said they wanted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. In response, the U.S. and E.U. imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Russian and Ukrainian officials on Monday. They said the vote vote was illegitimate and performed under threat of violence and intimidation from forces believed to be backed by Moscow.