Posted by Libergirl

TIME

Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty Tuesday to make the autonomous region part of Russia, as Russian President Vladimir Putin stoutly defended the contentious annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

“Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Putin said, in a televised address before the Russian parliament.

Putin set a tone of defiance in his speech Tuesday, calling the political forces in power in Ukraine today “Neo-Nazis” and “Anti-Semites” and calling the Ukrainian capital Kiev “the mother of all Russian cities.” He couched the decision to annex Crimea as a necessary step to correct historical wrongs and protect the human rights of Russians in Crimea. “We’ve seen attempts to ban the Russian language to assimilate the Russian population and of course Russians just like other minorities suffered from constant political crisis that Ukraine’s been going through for 20 years,” he…

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