Transcript for Pro-Russian Separatists Say Parts of Eastern Ukraine Voted for Independence
Bullets over. Ballots in eastern Ukraine armed separatists for popping off rounds Sunday. Now to claim that pro Russian strongholds yes -- have -- Favour of the parade and are now formally -- joined the Russian Federation. The -- when I'm down Cutler in New York Ukraine on the brink again this afternoon just hours after declaring their independence. The so called people's republic of -- yes. Is waiting on word from Russian president Vladimir Putin will he welcome them like he did Crimea re skiing wider conflict with the west or. Step back and attempt to calm the crisis -- joining -- not help us answer some of those questions ABCs of mark mark from -- yes Ukraine and here -- reporting. From Moscow and outsource start with you was this a free in fair vote in Don yes a lot of people asking about legitimacy. Of this vote. Well -- serious questions certainly about its legitimacy. It was treated -- and that everyone was allowed to take part. But the only people who turned out and there -- thousands of them both in those two provinces you mentioned. Tanya ask and -- guns. But they were almost to a man and woman every single one. -- pro Russian separatists you know we spend all day driving around from polling station to polling station talking to people looking at their ballots through the clear plexiglass. Boxes there wasn't a single person. Who was voting no. On to what was a rather ambiguous question on the ballot about whether. People wanted more independence for the region and -- different people took that to mean different things. I didn't mean more autonomy from the government and GM didn't mean an independent country. Was this just stepping stone towards joining Russia people different people. Wanted different things in fact we spoke with the governor of the so called people's republic of digest. This morning Tom and he didn't have a clear answer for us either and in just a couple hours later he summoned reporters to a press conference and announced. This request for annexation to Russia. So there was -- so much of a surprise them with some of those pro -- leaders they're going so quickly to join blue and asking to join Russia. It was surprising that it did it happened so quickly this that this wasn't a scenario. That we added that Reid didn't envisage there -- certainly strong. Pro Russian ceilings in this part of the country. But this is not Crimea Danny and -- talked a lot over the past couple weeks and months both in Crimea and here in eastern Ukraine Crimea was overwhelmingly. Pro Russian and that most people -- -- -- ethnic Russians as part of the country's much more divided not only ethnically but on the question of whether to join. -- -- at all you certainly don't find a majority. Of the people walking around saying we absolutely want to be part of Russia. What we're hearing -- is less separatism and and and more autonomy people saying we want to be closer rush who want closer economic ties we certainly feel. Ethnically linguistically culturally closer. To Moscow. But we we we still like to be part of Ukrainian and -- that autonomy so when I put that question -- -- the people's governor this morning. You said you know its -- and it's up to the people to decide but apparently over the course last few -- he's figured out her or at least determined that the people have decided. They want to join Russia. You're jumping out of a cent from where your -- in Moscow is pulling tipping his hand as far as what he might do next. Well exactly what he does next is the big question right now and what he does this could really tip this one way or the other you -- just last week he seemed to suggest that you want to distance himself from this -- You know people in western capitals in the administration didn't really believe him because for so long they've accused him. -- Middle Eastern -- really -- all the progress that we've seen the last couple weeks just today this -- issued a statement saying that they. Will respect the wishes of the people who voted yesterday the Russians of course being the only ones. Who really consider this to be it legitimate. So Alison you know we did but it compares -- Crimea but you know if -- we're to welcome -- -- into the rationed butter federation. Is it going to be as smooth as Crimea is integration or is going to be a long -- going to be a partisan war. No it would it would be a lot mess here -- -- -- -- was actually quite easy to reserve it was remarkable to see it. Play out there one day you how these green men as they -- called show up in. -- their weapons and take over the entire peninsula rather peacefully essentially without firing a shot. And would certainly not happen here oddest places that this part of the country is there's a lot more divided. We have Ukrainian military -- here tearing out what they're calling an anti terrorist operation. Although -- it's clear they are quite nervous about carrying out any real operations that would result in. In bands too much bloodshed because -- -- here. Invoking the -- of the Russian military which is just across the border some 40000 troops are still there according to. -- -- NATO or US. And and Europe there have been bloody skirmishes. Over the course the past few days and weeks which have have raised fears of this this could turn into some sort of civil war some people here are are saying. It is already a civil war so so no Russian takeover. Of this part of the country would be a lot more difficult. But I but I have to say also that Sears appear to have subsided. About a Russian invasion that there isn't as much chatter about. And this year's these days are really censored. On on this part of the country breaking away from. The western part of Ukraine rejecting did -- -- government and that's really what the vote was about yesterday it was a full throated rejection. Of these -- government. And to go back your first question. I just have to note that did this -- this vote was carried out. By no means a -- international standards stated there were it was deeply flawed. -- there is absolutely no mechanism to prevent people from voting more than -- in fact we saw many voters putting in more than one ballot. Into those into his ballot boxes. There were no international monitors but he -- even have the latest voter registration rolls. -- to be able to accurately calculate turnout so when they compensated people voted overwhelmingly for more independence. There's there's really no way -- to confirm that this was not. A legitimate. -- vote in terms of international standards. Here talk throughout the -- so the Russians right now -- how much does the potential for violence for sanctions for years of conflict. Essentially on their doorstep. Concern Russian leaders right now. We'll. Frankly that's not their biggest concern their biggest concern for the longest time spent the fear that they have that Ukraine become an ally -- -- EU and NATO. They didn't know that their orders what they saw was eight pro European government taking over -- Ukraine they saw no chance for pro Russian candidate to win the upcoming elections in May and the very least they want to try to stir up trouble to create instability that would be new elections seem illegitimate -- -- Ukraine. Unstable not a good -- for the west. And apparently it -- try to create a sort of buffer zone between them. And the rest of -- and the rest of Europe which they see is a threat and that's their biggest fear. I of course you bring up the question you know. If there is instability on the border is that -- bad -- for them I think at this point at least included better than -- Turner's Alex then where. Is that the government where -- the Ukraine government right now I mean. Have we heard from the interim leaders there army we expect any kind of a military response from this vote. Oh -- -- they've been as shouting from the rooftops. They're calling this vote a criminal SARS they've completely rejected it. As has the US government calling it. Illegal so it did there won't necessarily be a military response directly to this referendum are -- there is a continuing. Operation in this part of the country but it's impossible to say who's really in charge there is quite a bit of anarchy going on. You know -- police forces military forces are defecting. There's there there are no real state institutions that are that are operating. Correctly. It it is really -- rather chaotic situation in the Indies eastern. Provinces where buildings and an entire towns like -- beyond just north of where I am here have been taken over. About pro Russian separatists. So here at the it's telling that above the threshold right now for the Ukrainian get a for the Ukrainian military as far as. Making any kind of -- kind of move that might risk Russian troops coming across the border. That out how to put that question to you. Where where where his enemy wet wet wet level what will be it tipping point for Ukrainian government offensive to too. Put that kind of military action -- response than knowing in fact that Russian troops could be coming across the border. Well that's really been an interesting thing to watch -- mean I was here a month ago when they want justice antiterrorist operation here in. And -- -- Providence and insists then they haven't really undertaken. Any major operations to take back. Buildings are -- -- they have attacked a couple of checkpoints they have tried to take back several buildings but then sometimes they've retreated so. They've been trying to make their presence known but -- they aren't risking this sort of bloodshed that that they feel apparently. Would it would provoke. Russia back in into into responding. ABC thoughts Mark Martin and Don gets out thank you for your time appreciate that and of course our thanks to care Roddy -- in Moscow -- well this is that an ABC news digital special report -- can keep up with the story in real time. By downloading the ABC news -- and star in this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm down -- in New York.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.