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Putin welcomes annexation of Ukrainian territories | War in Ukraine

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar19,2024

Putin welcomes annexation of Ukrainian territories | War in Ukraine

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President Vladimir Putin attends the celebrations in Red Square, Moscow, of the 10th anniversary of the annexation of Crimea which coincided with his victory in the presidential election.

Agence France-Presse

Vladimir Putin on Monday welcomed the “return to the homeland” of the Ukrainian territories occupied by Moscow, cheered by a crowd gathered on Red Square after his very large re-election following an unopposed presidential election. p>

Mr. Putin, in power for almost a quarter of a century, received 87.28% of the votes following this vote which was held from Friday to Sunday, including in the regions of #x27;Ukraine, whose annexation Moscow has claimed.

This score was described as exceptional by the Kremlin, while it was denounced as unrelated to reality by the opposition in exile.

The 71-year-old president appeared in the evening on Red Square, where a concert was taking place celebrating 10 years of the ;annexation of the Crimean peninsula, first act of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Welcomed by the crowd with shouts of Russia! Russia!, Mr. Putin, accompanied on stage by his three presidential opponents, assured that his country would move forward, hand in hand with the territories conquered from Ukraine.

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The return to the homeland turned out to be more difficult, more tragic, but we succeeded and it is a great event in the world x27;history of our State, launched Vladimir Putin in a brief speech before singing the Russian anthem in unison with the crowd, at the foot of the walls of the Kremlin.

Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 after an intervention by its special forces. In September 2022, it claimed the annexation of four other regions of Ukraine that it partially occupies: those of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east, and those of Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south.

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In the crowd of spectators of this patriotic concert, many Russians have expressed their support for Vladimir Putin, after more than two years of military offensive in Ukraine and heavy Western sanctions.

All citizens who respect our country voted for Putin, Elena, a 62-year-old economist who lives in Moscow, assures AFP.

Ivan Tregoubov, a 30-year-old social worker, believes that under his leadership the country will only get stronger. We expect even greater successes, he says.

Vladimir Putin is the foundation of our country. I trust him, adds Victoria, aged 23, who was born when the master of the Kremlin was already in power.

The Kremlin had of the presidential election a tailor-made election intended to demonstrate the confidence of Russians in their president: the three other candidates were all on the same line as Mr. Putin, whether it was Ukraine or of the repression which culminated with the death of opponent Alexeï Navalny in an Arctic prison in February.

The opposition nevertheless managed to show itself during this presidential election by gathering in polling stations on Sunday at noon, spoiling ballots or invalidating them by writing Navalny's name.

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Members of a local election commission empty a ballot box at a polling station after the last of three days of the Russian presidential election, in Moscow, on March 17, 2024.

This is what his widow Yulia Navalnaïa did by voting at the Russian embassy in Berlin. The deceased's team, which accuses the Kremlin of having killed the opponent, judged that the score obtained by Mr. Putin had no connection with reality.

Russia's partners congratulated Vladimir Putin on his re-election: Chinese leader Xi Jinping assured that this result proved the full support of the Russians, while the Iranian president Ebrahim Raïssi saw it as a solid victory.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for strengthening the special relationship between the two countries, and the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia also welcomed the outcome of the vote.

Berlin, London, Paris and the head of European diplomacy, for their part, castigated a vote under duress, without opposition and in full repression. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he saw in Mr. Putin a man drunk on power who wants to rule forever.

Analysis by Alexandra Szacka

In his victory speech late Sunday evening, Vladimir Putin painted a portrait of a consolidated Russia that will not be intimidated by the West .

Mr. Zelensky, for his part, once again called on the US Congress to quickly release the envelope of 60 billion US dollars in military and economic assistance, which is of critical importance for Kiev.

As for the front, the whole week was marked by deadly bombings and incursions by armed fighters from Ukraine to show the Russia that it is not safe on its territory.

In the Belgorod region, bordering Russia #x27;Ukraine, these attacks have left at least 16 dead since March 12, according to local authorities.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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