On Tuesday, Crimean officials signed a treaty making them a member of the Russian Federation. This move officially expands the geopolitical power of Russia, as the US and the European Union standby without a sound policy to combat the changes. Putin used the moment to criticize interim leaders in Ukraine and the West.
Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty Tuesday to incorporate Crimea into Russia’s territory following a referendum in which residents of Ukraine’s region overwhelmingly backed the move.
President Vladimir Putin signed the document Tuesday with Crimea’s prime minister and parliament speaker following a televised address to the nation, in which he vigorously defended Crimea’s vote as a restoration of historical justice.
The agreement has to be endorsed by Russia’s Constitutional Court and ratified by both houses of parliament to take effect. Those steps are considered mere formalities.
Putin has accused the West of encouraging unrest in Ukraine in order to break its historic ties with Russia, and dismissed Western criticism of the Crimean vote as illegitimate.
In a televised address to Russia Tuesday, Putin defended Russia’s move to annex Crimea, saying that the rights of ethnic Russians have been abused by the Ukrainian government.
He also called authorities in Ukraine “nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites,” according to Reuters.
“Those who were behind recent events, they were … preparing a coup d’etat, another one,” Putin said. “They were planning to seize power, stopping at nothing.”