Putin addresses a massive crowd celebrating new territories
The former Ukrainian regions have made the choice to be with their « historic homeland », said the Russian leader.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed thousands of people gathered in Moscow’s Red Square on Friday evening to celebrate the start of the process of incorporating four former Ukrainian regions that voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.
Putin’s moving speech came just hours after the signing of treaties on the inclusion of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, into the Russian Federation. The signing ceremony marked the start of the formal accession process, which will involve the examination of the treaties by the Constitutional Court and by both houses of parliament.
Claiming that it was Russia that originally « created modern Ukraine” by transferring Moscow « historic territories » to this, Putin said that modern Russia has now given the people of these regions « the right to choose ».
« People came to the referendum and made their choice: to be with their historic homeland, with Russiahe said to the applause of the crowd.
NOW – Crowd Chants "Russia, Russia, Russia" in Moscow’s Red Square as Putin makes his appearance. pic.twitter.com/kOajlHOsDV
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For decades, Putin said, Ukrainian authorities have tried in vain to eradicate the « historical identity,to destroy their traditions and forbid them to speak their mother tongue.
« These people carried in their hearts the love of their historic homeland and transmitted it to their children,the president said, adding that Russia was not just opening its doors, but “opening its heart” to them.
« welcome to the househe said, eliciting chants of “Russia” from the crowd.
Putin also took advantage of the address to make several promises: to improve security in the new territories, to revive their economies and to build schools and hospitals.
« We have become stronger because we are together. The truth is behind us, and the truth means strength, and therefore victory. The victory will be ours,“Said Putin in conclusion, before shaking hands with the heads of regions, who joined him on stage.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, on the eve of what Putin called « historic day,“UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the Kremlin”take a step back » and to stop the « annexation” of the four Ukrainian regions.
Guterres also warned Russia that neither the inclusion of new territories into Russia nor the results of their referendums would be recognized as legal. Moscow, in turn, accused the secretary-general of abusing his power by making political statements on behalf of the UN.