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Putin says West overreacted to Crimea’s merger with Russia

November 17, 2014, 6:11 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. The West expressed a disproportionate reaction to Crimea’s merger with Russia earlier in the year as Moscow acted in line with the Kosovo precedent, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“We believe that this sort of reaction was totally disproportionate to what had happened,” Putin said in an interview with German TV channel ARD. “Whenever I hear complaints about Russia violating international law I am simply amazed.”

“What is international law? It is first of all the United Nations Charter, international practice and its interpretation by relevant international institutions. Moreover, we have a clear recent precedent - Kosovo.”

The Russian president said he meant the ruling of the International Court of Justice, which ruled that Kosovo had the right for self-determination.

“But not only that,” Putin said. “Its main point was that when making a decision concerning their self-determination, the people living in a certain territory need not ask the opinion of the central authorities of the state where they presently live. They do not need the approval by the central authorities, by the government, to take the necessary measures for self-determination. That is the central point.”

And what was done in Crimea was not in any way different from what had been done in Kosovo,” he said. “I am deeply convinced that Russia did not commit any violations of international law.”

The Russian president said he never made it a secret that Russian troops were present during Crimea’s referendum on independence in spring this year, but they were sent there by Russia to avert a possible bloodshed.

“Yes, I make no secret of it, it is a fact and we never concealed that our Armed Forces, let us be clear, blocked Ukrainian armed forces stationed in Crimea, not to force anybody to vote, which is impossible, but to avoid bloodshed, to give the people an opportunity to express their own opinion about how they want to shape their future and the future of their children,” Putin said.

“Kosovo, which you mentioned, declared its independence by parliamentary decision alone,” he said. “In Crimea, people did not just make a parliamentary decision, they held a referendum, and its results were simply stunning.”

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed reunification deals with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems is actively underway now that Crimea has become part of Russia.

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