Putin visits annexed Crimea on Victory Day
Published 10:12 am Friday, May 9, 2014
SEVASTOPOL, Crimea — President Vladimir Putin extolled the return of Crimea to Russia before tens of thousands Friday during his first trip to Black Sea peninsula since its annexation. The triumphant visit was quickly condemned by Ukraine and NATO.
The celebrations, which included a massive show of military muscle in the annual Red Square parade in Moscow and in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, came as Ukraine is struggling with its most serious political crisis in decades. Pro-Russia insurgents in the east are fighting the government in Kiev and preparing to hold a referendum Sunday on secession.
Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as “return to the Motherland” and a tribute to the “historical justice and the memory of our ancestors.” The peninsula of 2 million people had been part of Ukraine from 1954 until March.
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Boarding a boat, Putin sailed past a line of Russian Black Sea Fleet ships anchored in Sevastopol’s bay and greeted their crews before watching a flyby of 70 military aircraft. Residents flooded the city’s streets to watch.