News / Europe

    Putin in Crimea in First Visit Since Annexation

    Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during events marking Victory Day, in Sevastopol, Crimea, May 9, 2014.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during events marking Victory Day, in Sevastopol, Crimea, May 9, 2014.
    VOA News
    Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to Crimea Friday to mark the Soviet Union's World War II victory, his first trip to the peninsula since Moscow annexed it from Ukraine in March.

    Putin declared his country is now stronger with the annexation of Crimea.

    "I am sure that 2014 will go into the annals of our whole country as the year when the nations living here firmly decided to be together with Russia, affirming fidelity to the historical truth and the memory of our ancestors,''  Putin was quoted as saying during a speech in the port city of Sevastopol.

    "There is a lot of work ahead but we will overcome all difficulties because we are together, which means we have become stronger," the Russian leader said during his remarks to military leaders and other officials. 

    The Kyiv government immediately condemned Putin's visit as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law. The March 21st annexation of Crimea is not recognized by the United States, the European Union and NATO.

    The Obama administration criticized the trip as provocative and repeated its rejection of the region's annexation. The European Union also weighed in, saying the commemoration of victory in World War II shoud not be used to showcase Russia's annexation of the region.
     
    A sailor stands during a Victory Day military parade in Sevastopol, Crimea on May 9, 2014.
    A sailor stands during a Victory Day military parade in Sevastopol, Crimea on May 9, 2014.


    Putin arrived was treated like a hero upon his arrival in Sevastopol, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based. Earlier in the day, he watched as thousands of Russian troops marched through Moscow to mark Victory Day, the 69th anniversary of the end of World War II.

    Putin made no mention of the situation in Ukraine during public remarks in Moscow. Both the Sevatopol and Russian anniversaries fall on May 9.  

    Later in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for urgent dialogue, mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, between Kiev and south-eastern regions of Ukraine.

    Lavrov also called for Washington to help end Ukrainian military operations in the south-east of the country.

     
    Russian servicemen march during a Victory Day Parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 9, 2014.
    Russian servicemen march during a Victory Day Parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 9, 2014.


    Mariupol clash

    Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops driving armored vehicles Friday in the port city of Mariupol smashed through barricades surrounding a police station occupied by pro-Russian separatists.  Witnesses say the attack killed at least seven people, and television footage showed the building reduced to smoldering rubble.

    The new violence in the southeastern port city on the Azov Sea comes two days before voters in the region decide whether to secede from Ukraine and establish an independent Donetsk People's Republic.  A similar referendum is set for the nearby Luhansk region.

    The Ukraine offensive in Mariupol, a city of 465,000 residents, marks the second time this week that government security forces have engaged the armed separatists.
     
    Pro-Russian rebels guard Victory Day celebrations in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 9, 2014.
    Pro-Russian rebels guard Victory Day celebrations in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 9, 2014.

    But pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk said they will go ahead with Sunday's balloting, despite the Russian leader's call for a delay on Thursday.
     
    Russian media quoted separatist Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, as saying the referendum will ask residents to vote yes or no on whether they support a "proclamation of state independence."

    Luhansk residents will be asked the same question, despite recent polling showing 70 percent of residents in eastern Ukraine want to remain part of Ukraine.

    Fuel

    In another development, Russia ordered energy-dependent Ukraine to pay in advance for all future natural gas deliveries. 

    The Russian Energy Ministry said Thursday Ukraine missed a Wednesday deadline to pay down a $3.5 billion energy debt. As the cash-poor Kyiv government struggles to maintain economic and political stability, Moscow now says all gas sent from June 1 will require cash in advance.

    It remained unclear late Thursday what impact the prepayment edict will have on the European Union. Russia supplies about 30 percent of Western Europe's gas needs, with about half of those supplies passing through Ukraine.

    Ukraine has so far refused to pay down its energy debt to protest Moscow's recent gas price increase that nearly doubles what Ukraine's energy monopoly Naftogaz pays its neighbor. 

    The Russian president last month warned the European Union that it would require gas prepayments from Ukraine, unless Europe helped cover the Ukraine debt.  Since then, the International Monetary Fund has approved a loan package to Kyiv that includes an initial payment of more than $2 billion. 

    Some information for this report provided by Reuters.
     
    Putin in Crimea in First Visit Since Annexationi
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    X
    May 09, 2014 2:35 PM
    Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Crimea on his first visit to the peninsula since Moscow annexed it from Ukraine in March.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Blockbuster from: Auckland
    May 11, 2014 12:29 AM
    I think Putin, has created a balance of power west has developed a tendency of attacking small countries with no military capabilities like US e.g Iraq, libya, Afganistan and also toppling regimes from other small countries just because they don't stand to serve their interests.I think west miscalculated Russia and now history is repeating itself no one has conquered Russia. Personally I thank China for giving the world another economical option and for Putin and Russia for putting a stop to US bullying.

    by: Radmila from: Rus
    May 10, 2014 10:32 AM
    Contents of this video from with Putin Crim and another - from the sity Mariuple, in which ucraine rule killed townsmen for money of NATO and USA. USA it is a unique аnd a nazy country, USA create hostility and grow rich. People of the USA are opinionated, but they ignore truth. Ucraine, Russia and Belarus - an one genetic and language nation! In the 1914, 1991 they were parted by force of West and USA. As and in the 2014. We will die a violent death. I am rus. I know

    by: gen from: Japan
    May 10, 2014 6:08 AM
    Mr Putin said before to Obama "West take actions on the basis of inaccurate information".Russian laugh and feel "US set fire on my neighbour's house.then uncontrollable.Then US blame it on the neighbour(Russia) who live near the house
    on which US set fire ".LOL.
    Americans are like that?

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    May 10, 2014 3:33 AM
    Mr. Putin is a criminal, He is a terrorist and he should be brought to justice by the ICC. This man is a modern day Hitler who have defied the so call world leaders. We are calling on the ICC to act immediately, Such a cowardly behavior must and will not be tolerated. Russia flying their f16 over US coast, what kind of mess is that? an President Obama is saying why everybody want us to fight? Yes we want to fight. who does Mr. Putin think he is? He is so lucky that former President George W. Bush is not in power. Do you actually think when President Bush was in power, that nonsense that Mr. Putin did, he will do it? No. Russia cannot withstand the US fire power, No. But the IC needs to respond to Russia aggression.

    by: gen from: Japan
    May 10, 2014 2:02 AM
    Mr Putin said before to Obama "West take actions on the basis of inaccurate information".Russian laugh and feel "US set fire on my neighbour's house.then uncontrollable.Then US blame it on the neighbour(Russia) who live near the house
    on which US set fire ".LOL.
    Most of american is like this?

    by: James McQuaid from: Lansing, Michigan
    May 09, 2014 10:14 PM
    In its secret war against Ukraine, Russia relies on covert operations which fall squarely within the definition of "international terrorism" under 18 U.S.C. § 2331.
    Specifically, armed operatives of Russia, acting under disguise, attempt to influence the policy of the Ukrainian government by intimidation or coercion. They also try to affect the conduct of a government by assassinations and kidnapping, taking by force government buildings, police posts and the military bases of Ukraine.
    This activity is being conducted on a very large scale and over a prolonged time period, despite condemnation by the USA, G-7, NATO, EU and UN.
    Please sign the petition at the White House web site to officially designate Russia as "State sponsor of terrorism”: http://wh.gov/lwuL9
    This status would prohibit investment by American corporations in stinking Russia.
    In Response

    by: Denesd from: US
    May 10, 2014 9:13 AM
    Consequently Putyin is a war criminal like Milosevic. His place is in The Hague.

    by: CCCF from: West Volga Terr.
    May 09, 2014 9:03 PM
    Putin.......to smug...so self assured.....has nice parade with planes, rocket launchers and troops.....in hurry to visit Crimea but not the Russia gulags....Mr Putin....where are the stolen Ukrainian ships?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    May 09, 2014 8:43 AM
    WHAT NEXT? -- Will Russia build a "Disneyland" themed type amusement park in Crimea? -- A world class Casino, and tourist resort?
    Eastern Ukraine is the industrial base of Ukraine, and would be a major addition to the Russian Federation... It'll be another win, win, Putin victory from the book "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu...

    by: moritz katz from: germany
    May 09, 2014 8:02 AM
    As head of state he is doing what he should be doing no for us to pass judgment
    In Response

    by: Sean Young from: Canada
    May 10, 2014 9:08 AM
    Moritz really. Im sure you miss Hitler and the dream of one world power. Will you feel the same if germany is next.
    In Response

    by: violet Weiner from: 90027
    May 09, 2014 8:51 PM
    Putin is following Hitler's agenda to a T, only he's not
    only persecuting minorities, but his own people. Stalin
    did the same thing and killed 4 million Russians with
    theSoviet Union rule, and Putin's next step is to lie to
    the world that it's for the 'good of his people', which is
    also what Hitler did. Putin says one thing and does
    another, and is just another little dictator.
    Vigoddess@aol.com

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