MOSCOW (AP) — The speaker for Russia's upper house of parliament has met with the head of Crimean parliament today to discuss the region's possible accession to Russia.

Russia's Valentina Matvienko says Crimea would be welcome as an "equal subject" in Russia if the region votes to leave Ukraine in a referendum scheduled for March 16.

Russia's parliament is planning to review a bill as early as next week that would speed up Crimea's integration into Russia.