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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on Tuesday to annex the Crimea as part of Russia, defying the wishes and threats of Western nations. He claimed that the US and other nations were collaborating with radicals to prevent Russia from its rightful territory.
"In people's hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia," Putin said, according to USA Today.
Although Putin called the annexation legal and democratic, he also claimed he has no plans to seize any other part of Ukraine, Reuters reports.
The annexation comes in the wake of a disputed referendum vote among the people of Crimea. The results came out in favor of splitting from the new pro-Western Ukrainian regime in Kiev in favor of joining Russia.
Vice President Biden called Putin's actions a "blatant violation of international law," saying that the move would result in stronger trade sanctions being imposed against Russia.
That same day a Ukrainian serviceman was killed at a military base under the rule of Kiev in the Crimean town of Simferopol. Kiev responded by allowing its soldiers in the newly annexed state to use their weapons against potential attackers.
The Crimean peninsula, which lies on the Black Sea between Ukraine and Russia, has been host to waves of violent protests following the Kiev revolution, but the serviceman's death marks the first military death since Russian troops invaded three weeks ago.
The treaty will be moved onto the Russian government, where it is expected to be ratified with little opposition in several days.
Image: Wikimedia Commons