MOSCOW, March 18 � With a sweep of his pen, President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to the map of Russia today, describing the move as correcting past injustice and responding to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia�s vital interests, reports AP.
In an emotional 40-minute speech televised live from the Kremlin, Putin said �in people�s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia.�
He dismissed Western criticism of Sunday�s Crimean referendum, in which residents of the strategic Black Sea peninsula overwhelmingly backed breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia, as a manifestation of the West�s double standards.
But the Russian leader insisted his nation has no intention to invade other regions of Ukraine, saying �we don�t want a division of Ukraine, we don�t need that.�
Putin referred to Ukraine as a state born out of an illegal secession from the Soviet Union. He also argued that today�s Ukraine includes �regions of Russia�s historic south� and was created on a whim by the Bolsheviks.
The statement sounded as a clear warning to both the new Ukrainian government in Kiev and to the West to respect Russia�s interests. In response, Ukraine�s new government called Putin a threat to the whole world and US Vice President Joe Biden warned that the US and Europe will impose further sanctions against Moscow.
�The world has seen through Russia�s actions and has rejected the flawed logic,� Biden said, meeting today with anxious European leaders in Poland.
�Today�s statement by Putin showed in high relief what a real threat Russia is for the civilized world and international security,� Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Evhen Perebinis said on Twitter. �(The annexation) has nothing to do with law or with democracy or sensible thinking.�
Thousands of Russian troops have been massed along Ukraine�s eastern border for the last few weeks Russia says that was for military training while the US and Europe view the troops as an intimidation tactic.