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Putin appeals to nationalism in a campaign event in the annexed Crimea

The Russian president's journey coincides with the fourth anniversary of the incorporation of the peninsula

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Putin appeals to nationalism in a campaign event in the annexed Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin chose city of Sebastopol, on annexed Crimean peninsula, for culminating chapter of his election campaign, focusing on idea of a strong state that regains its power and a territory that in past belonged to it. In square of Admiral Nakhimov of Sebastopol, Putin briefly intervened in a rally involving several thousand people who had spent two hours while Russian head of state visited public works carried out in Crimea on behalf of Russian state , namely 19-kilometer-long bridge that has to unite peninsula with Russia by Strait of Kerch, new airport of Sinferópol ( capital of Crimea) with capacity for 6.5 million passengers per year, and Tavrida Highway, which joins Kerch with rest of Island in a transverse traverse (251 km long).

Putin's journey coincides with fourth anniversary of annexation. Following occupation by Russian military (with uniforms and devoid of identification equipment) of all strategic points of island at end of February 2014, a "referendum" was held on 16 March in which majority of voters pronounced To become independent from Ukraine and join Russia, a procedure that was staged on March 18 in Kremlin. Neir Russian nor Ukrainian legislation recognizes referendum as a way for independence of a part of its territory. Crimea, de facto a territory controlled by Russia, remains part of Ukraine under international law.

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Putin's visit to Crimea was scheduled for March 18 — anniversary of Russia's integration — according to unofficial sources in Moscow and peninsula. If it had been carried out on that date, electoral effect of journey would have been less to coincide with voting day.

The Russian state has invested great resources in works of Crimea, of which most symbolism is bridge over Strait of Kerch, which is presented like an umbilical cord with Russia. This bridge, whose construction is run by companies linked to Arkady Rotenberg (Putin's friend and sports partner), combines rail transport with that of automobiles and, in latter part, was expected to start operating next December. However, Putin wanted to advance dates and said that first cars will be circulating on bridge in May next.

General view of Kerch Bridge. Mikhail Svetlov Getty Images

The Kerch Bridge is an international litigation with Ukraine that fears to hinder passage of its ships towards Black Sea. According to Russian television, a special unit dependent on National Guard will ensure security of bridge, with which Russia wants to achieve what Germans did not achieve during ir occupation of Crimea during Second World War. The Nazi invaders came to build a bridge that was destroyed by usual storms in Strait of Kerch. "I congratulate you", "It's impressive," Putin said to workers who guided him on his visit to construction site.

Putin's appearance was brief. A ovation received "man who made possible return of Crimea to Russia", as said television channel announcer "Russia 24", when president went on stage, where word "Crimea" (Krym in Russian) was written in red. "Four years ago we made a historic decision and thanks to its decision, Crimea returned to house of Madrecita Russia," said president, according to which, because of it, had "restored historical justice." "Crimea was snatched" from Soviet Socialist Russia ( largest of USSR's republics), Putin said.

The Soviet Union practiced transfer of territories between republics that composed it and reorganized its territory on multiple occasions. The peninsula was passed from that Republic to Ukraine in 1954 due to economic considerations, among or things because irrigation system, vital for that territory with scarce water, depended on Ukraine. Russia recognized Crimea's membership of Ukraine in various international documents since breakup of USSR in 1991, including Great Friendship Treaty of 1997. "I hug you hard, hard," said Putin, crossing his arms to hug himself, at end of his speech.


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