Putin addresses crowd on Red Square to mark 10 years of Crimean annexation

A buoyant Vladimir Putin addressed a crowd gathered on Moscow’s Red Square on Monday evening to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

The Russian president, fresh from his re-election to the presidency in a vote widely dismissed as a sham by the international community, was joined on stage by the three politicians permitted to stand against him, Vladislav Davankov, Nikolay Kharitonov and Leonid Slutsky.

During his speech Putin called Crimea a “strategically important territory” and “the pride of Russia.” Putin added that people in the four Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, which Russia has since claimed as its own territory and partially occupies, "declared their desire to return to their native family,” though he conceded that their journey “to their homeland turned out to be more difficult, more tragic".

His remarks were echoed by Kharitonov, who declared Russia and Crimea to be “one homeland,” as well as by Davankov and Slutsky who congratulated the Crimeans on being "reunited" with Russia. Putin’s speech was followed by the Russian national anthem before he left the stage.

Despite a Russian-administered referendum that overwhelmingly endorsed rule from Moscow, the annexation of Crimea remains illegal and is not recognised by the international community.

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