MOSCOW, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin asked parliament Tuesday to ratify a treaty adopting two new regions, the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, into its territory.
The treaty was signed with the Crimean government's delegation during a ceremony in the Kremlin following Putin's unscheduled address to both houses of the Russian parliament, or the Federal Assembly.
ACCESSION OF CRIMEA "HISTORICALLY JUST, LEGALLY CORRECT"
Crimea's decision to proclaim independence and join Russia was fully in accordance with international law and completely matched historical justice, Putin said.
"Crimea is part of our common heritage and a key factor of stability in the region. This strategic territory should be under strong, stable sovereignty, which in effect can only be Russian," he said.
Noting that Russian people have become the largest divided nation in the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he expressed his hope that Germany, which was unified in 1990 after more than four decades of separation, would support Russians' aspiration for reunification.
Ninety-two percent of Crimeans supported reunification with Russia, he said, stressing Russia would always defend Russian people's interests using political, diplomatic and legal methods.
"Millions of Russian-speaking citizens live and will live in Ukraine. But Ukraine, too, should be interested in guaranteeing the rights and interests of these people. This would guarantee stability, the Ukrainian state system and the country's territorial integrity," Putin said.
Still, he added, Moscow did not seek and did not need to split Ukraine.
"Don't believe those who scare you with Russia, who are shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We don't want a division of Ukraine. We don't need that," he said.
"I sincerely want you (the Ukrainians) to understand us: we don't want to harm you or insult your national feelings," Putin said.
Russia set the deadline for a transitional period of Crimea's integration into Russia as Jan. 1, 2015.
During this period, Crimea's integration into the economic, financial, credit and legal systems of Russia and the military service on territories of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol will be settled, according to Russian laws.
WEST' S BEHAVIOR "RUDE, IRRESPONSIBLE, UNPROFESSIONAL"
During his speech, Putin repeatedly slammed the West as a whole, and the United States in particular, for hypocrisy and the use of double standards.
The situation in Ukraine mirrored what had been happening in the world after the collapse of the bi-polar system, because the United States started to believe in its exceptional right to pursue its interests by rude force, he said.
"They were rude, irresponsible, and unprofessional. If one presses a springboard really hard, it will spring back really hard. You should always remember that," Putin warned.
The West had repeatedly cheated Russia when it came to the NATO expansion, anti-missile defense and a visa regime, Putin said.
"We have every reason to think that the notorious policy of confining Russia, pursued in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today," Putin said, warning that "everything has its limits." In the case of Ukraine, the West had crossed the line, he said.
"They have totally lost their political intuition and sense of measure and they did not predict all the consequences of their actions. Russia was in a situation where it couldn't go back," he said.
Still, Putin said, Moscow did not seek confrontation with its partners in the East and the West. "On the contrary, we will do everything to build civilized good-neighborly relations, as is accepted in the modern world," he promised.
The speech was Putin's personal initiative, not required by Russian law. The lawmakers gave Putin a standing ovation, cheering "Russia!", with some waving Sevastopol's flag.
KIEV, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine on Tuesday appealed to the Budapest Memorandum guarantor countries to set up an emergency commission to de-escalate the ongoing crisis in the country.
"We need to convene an urgent commission of the defense ministries of Russia, the United States and Britain to prevent the escalation of the conflict," Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said in a statement. Full story
KIEV, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Kiev did not accept the treaty under which Russia incorporated the "self-proclaimed" Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as part of its territory, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
"We do not recognize and we will never recognize the so-called Crimean independence and the so-called joining of Crimea to Russia," Foreign Ministry spokesman Eugene Perebiynis told reporters. Full story
BRUSSELS, March 18 (Xinhua) -- The top leaders of the European Union (EU) on Tuesday reiterated the referendum in Crimea is "illegal".
"The sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine must be respected," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement. Full story