Putin: Crimea Was Always Part of Russia
Blasts West as Kremlin approves annexation treaty
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Mar 18, 2014 7:55 AM CDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federation Council in Moscow's Kremlin on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(Newser) – Vladimir Putin opened his mouth and let the West have it today during his fiery formal proposal to annex Crimea, which he claimed "has always been part of Russia"; he likened the annexation to the reunification of East and West Germany. Putin declared the referendum to join Russia "more than convincing," reports the BBC, and denied other regions would follow, saying, "we don't need the division of Ukraine." The speech was "a classic Putin performance," tweeted the Guardian's Shaun Walker, going from loud and angry "to quiet clever exposition of hypocrisy. He's enjoying himself." He was greeted with a standing ovation; afterward, Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty making the territory part of Russia as the national anthem played. Elsewhere on the Crimean front:

  • Russia's lower house responded to US sanctions by suggesting "that the Americans include all the members of the Duma on their sanctions list," reports CNN. "Our principles aren't for sale and we aren't afraid of sanctions."
  • Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Crimea's secession vote as a "happy event," the AP reports. It revealed that "people really wanted to return to Russia," the former Soviet president said, noting that Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians should have the same opportunity.
  • Crimea will likely be dubbed a republic within the Russian Federation, the BBC reports. And it's not the only one: The Moldovan Trans-Dniester region is also reportedly seeking to join Russia.
  • Minority Tatars in Crimea have expressed concern that they could see violence. Crimea's deputy PM today said the group would be called on to "vacate" territory they "illegally" occupy so it can be used for "social needs," the AP reports. But Putin today said Crimea will have three official languages, not two: Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar.

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