Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine drew international sanctions, but many Russians saw it as restoring Moscow’s rule over a region they regard as being historically theirs.
Appearing in front of a crowd of cheering supporters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, Putin said that, four years ago, the people of Crimea took a historic decision to become part of Russia.
Vladimir Putin addressing supporters during the fourth anniversary of the Russian annexation in Sevastopol’s Nakhimov Square
Russian forces entering Crimea in 2014. The move was condemned by the international community and resulted in sanctions against the Kremlin
The Russian president thanked Crimean voters for backing Moscow rule but did not mention the deteriorating relations with Britain
‘With your decision you restored historical justice,’ he told the crowd of supporters in the city of Sevastopol, home to the Black Sea Fleet’s base.
‘With your decision, you showed the whole world what is real, rather than sham democracy, you came to the referendum and made a decision, you voted for your future and future of your children.’
In a rallying call he said there are still things to improve in Crimea but ‘we will definitely do everything, because when we are together we are a huge force that can resolve the most difficult problems.’
Putin is running for an historic fourth term in a poll all but guaranteed to hand him another mandate.
Police said about 40,000 people attended Putin’s short speech, having first to wait for several hours listening to patriotic songs.
The Russian election is scheduled for March 18, the day when a treaty was signed with the Crimea making it a part of Russia
An estimated 40,000 people turned out to see Putin ahead of the March 18 presidential election
Putin also inspected the Kerch Strait Bridge which when completed will link Crimea with mainland Russia
Putin’s stop at Sevastopol’s main Nakhimov square is seen as his last campaign event before the country votes.
Russian authorities scheduled the election for March 18th to mark exactly four years since Putin signed a treaty with representatives from Crimea to make it a part of Russia.
His visit to Crimea also included a stop at the construction site of the massive Kerch Strait Bridge linking the peninsula to Russia and a look at a new airport terminal.
Putin inspected work on the 19-km (12-mile) road-and-rail bridge across the Kerch Strait, which some Russians have dubbed ‘Putin’s bridge’.
It designed to integrate Crimea with Russia’s transport network, and show off Moscow’s largesse.
The bridge will be the longest dual-purpose span in Europe when completed.
Putin, accompanied by officials in hard hats, was given a tour of the still-uncompleted central section of the bridge, and posted for photographs with workers.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk