We are opposed to NATO bossing about next to our door — Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin said today, on March 18, speaking to the Federal Assembly, that the Crimea “will never belong to Bandera”.
“We do not want the division of Ukraine, we do not need this. Crimea will remain Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. It will remain the way it have been for centuries, a home to all the peoples living there, but it will never belong to Bandera! Crimea is our common heritage and a major factor of stability in the region. And this strategic territory should be under strong and sustainable sovereignty, which de-facto only Russia can provide today,” Putin said.
He noted that the decision taken during by Crimeans on the referendum helped to retain keep Crimea and avoid Ukraine joining the NATO.
“We could have lost the Crimea in the short historical perspective. In Kiev, voices have already been heard about joining NATO. In this case, the city of military glory (Sevastopol) would hold a NATO fleet, a threat to all, was it not for the choice of the Crimea residents. I thank them for it. We are not against cooperation with NATO, but we are opposed to this military alliance bossing around next to our fence or on our historical territories,” said the Russian president.
On March 16, the Crimea held a referendum, where 96% voters favoured reunification with Russia. On March 17, Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognising the Crimea as an independent state.