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Putin on National Unity Day: 'Crimea is with Russia forever'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech as he visits a monument, dedicated to the end of the Russian Civil War and laid flowers at the eternal flame near the monument, on Russia's Unity Day in Sevastopol, Crimea November 4, 2021. (Photo by Russian Presidential website)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has marked the country’s National Unity Day with a visit to Crimea, saying the region will always be a part of Russia.

“Our country has regained its historical unity. This living and unbreakable bond can be especially keenly felt, of course, here, in Sevastopol, in Crimea,” said Putin.

Putin exalted the rejoining of Crimea to Russia in 2014, after laying flowers at the monument dedicated to the end of the Russian Civil War (1917-1922) in Sevastopol, the city that is the home port for Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

“They are with Russia forever now, as that is the sovereign, free and unbending will of the people, of all our people.”

The National Unity Day is a public holiday created by Putin's administration in 2004 that celebrates the liberation of Moscow from Polish troops in 1612. The holiday was established to replace Communist October Revolution Day, when tanks, missiles and troops used to parade through Moscow’s Red Square.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union (EU) backed Kiev and refused to recognize the referendum results, later imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Furthermore, Ukraine, as well as the EU and the US, claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies that allegation.

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