MOSCOW — With a sweep of his pen, President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to the map of Russia on Tuesday, describing the move as correcting past injustice and responding to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia's vital interests.
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.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.