Putin signs decree for Crimean annexation, blasts West
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders Tuesday signed a decree on the annexation of the strategically located peninsula by the Russian Federation, and the measure will be sent to parliament later in the day for ratification.
"In our hearts we know Crimea has always been an inalienable part of Russia," Putin said in a televised address to parliament and the nation.
He said Crimea's referendum vote Sunday to secede from Ukraine and join Russia was in line with international law, reflecting the region’s right to self-determination.
To back up his case, Putin pointed to Kosovo's 2008 independence move from Serbia — which was supported by the West and opposed by Russia — and said that Crimea's split from Ukraine repeats Ukraine's own secession from the Soviet Union in 1991.
At the end of his speech Putin welcomed the “Republic of Crimea” and the “City of Sevastopol” as new members of the Russian Federation, drawing a standing ovation. Shortly afterward, he signed documents on the annexation of the peninsula alongside Crimean leaders, with the Russian national anthem playing in the background.
He denied Western accusations that Russia invaded Crimea prior to the referendum, saying Russian personnel were sent there in line with a treaty with Ukraine that allows Russia to have up to 25,000 troops at its Black Sea Fleet base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
Earlier Putin had approved a draft bill for the annexation of Crimea, a major step toward formally taking over the peninsula.Read more at Al Jazeera America