Drawing on history, Putin announces annexation of Crimea

tags: Russia, United States, Ukraine, Crimea




MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin reclaimed Crimea as a part of Russia on Tuesday, reversing what he described as a historic injustice made by the Soviet Union 60 years ago and brushing aside international condemnation that could leave Russia isolated for years to come....

Since Russia’s stealthy takeover of Crimea began, Mr. Putin has said very little in public about his ultimate goals. His only extensive remarks came in a news conference with a pool of Kremlin journalists in which he appeared uncomfortable, uncertain and angry at times. In the grandeur of the Kremlin’s walls on Tuesday, Mr. Putin sounded utterly confident and defiant.

Reaching deep into Russian and Soviet history, he cast himself as the guardian of the Russian people, even those beyond its post-Soviet borders, restoring a part of an empire that the collapse of the Soviet Union had left abandoned to the cruel fates of what he described as a procession of hapless democratic leaders in Ukraine.

“Millions of Russians went to bed in one country and woke up abroad,” he said. “Overnight, they were minorities in the former Soviet republics, and the Russian people became one of the biggest — if not the biggest — divided nations in the world.”

He cited the 10th-century baptism of Prince Vladimir, whose conversion to Christianity transformed the kingdom then known as Rus into the foundation of the empire that became Russia. He called Kiev “the mother of Russian cities,” making clear to the world that he considered Ukraine, along with Belarus, to be countries where Russia’s own interests would remain at stake regardless of the fallout from Crimea’s annexation....



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