Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed both houses of the Kremlin’s legislature today to discuss the secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its integration into Russia.
A few hours ago, he signed a decree that recognised Crimea as an independent state.
Putin began by saying that Crimea is intertwined with Russia.
“Everything is related to Russian history. … [Crimea] is a fortress and where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is in port.”
“Crimea is a unique melting pot of traditions and culture and that’s why it looks … like Russia.”
Putin spoke about the “rehabilitation of ethnic Tartars,” a minority Muslim that makes up about 12% Crimea today after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s forcible deported of the entire population in 1944.
He then began talking about what he considers to be the lamentable collapse of the Soviet Union.
“We all used to belong to the same country: The Soviet Union. … The Soviet Union has collapsed. The events happened in such a fast way that many of the countries didn’t realise … When Crimea ended up in a different state, Russia realised that not only Russia was robbed, but Russia was robbed in broad daylight.”
“Crimea is a Russian land.”
“They used Crimea as a cow they milked … and they didn’t understand the realities on the ground.”
He described the current authorities in Kiev as “fascists, neo-Nazis, and anti-semites.” He added that the Western leaders that back them should know better.
He said that Russia has “strengthen the contingent” of soldiers in Crimea, but the Kremlin did not break any agreements because it can have 25,000 troops there.
Putin thanks Ukrainian troops for not attacking Russians (Crimean self-defence?) who surrounded them. Applause
— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 18, 2014
He added that “the Arab Spring has become the Arab Winter.”
“We have always been corner,” Putin said. “Because we are independent.”
He then said:
Putin: “In the case of Ukraine, our Western partners have crossed a line, a red line. They have been unprofessional, they have irresponsible.”
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) March 18, 2014
Putin said that Russian will not seek to break up other parts of Ukraine, which is the fear of many Ukrainians.
He also stated that only Ukrainians can bring “order,” while Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk states that Kiev has evidence that Russia is trying to destabilize south and east Ukraine.
“Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities,” Putin said. “It’s only up to Ukrainians themselves to restore order in their country.”
Putin ended the speech by saying that the “the will of people” has prompted him to accept Crimea as part of Russia and has asked the legislature to ratify it.
Overall, Putin gave a rousing performance to a home crowd. The international community will see the speech differently:
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