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Russian President Vladimir Putin Signs Crimea Treaty, Defying Western Sanctions

Defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty in Moscow on Tuesday making Crimea part of Russia again but said he did not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine.
On the peninsula, a Ukrainian serviceman was killed when a base still held by Kiev came under attack in the main town of Simferopol, the first death in Crimea from a military clash since Russia seized control three weeks ago.

Kiev said the attackers had been wearing Russian military uniforms, and it responded by authorizing its soldiers in Crimea to use weapons to protect their lives, reversing previous orders that they should avoid using arms against attack.

In a fiercely patriotic address to a joint session of parliament in the Kremlin, punctuated by standing ovations, cheers and tears, Putin said Crimea's disputed referendum vote on Sunday, held under Russian military occupation, had shown the overwhelming will of the people to be reunited with Russia.

As the Russian national anthem played, Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty to make Ukraine's region part of the Russian Federation, declaring: "In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia." Parliament is expected to begin ratifying the treaty within days.

Putin later told a flag-waving rally in Red Square beneath the Kremlin walls, near where Soviet politburo leaders once took the salute at May Day parades, that Crimea has returned to "home port".

Russian forces took control of the Black Sea peninsula in late February following the toppling of Moscow-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich by protests provoked by his decision to spurn a trade deal with the European Union last November and seek closer ties with Russia. People in Crimea voted overwhelmingly in last weekend's referendum to join Russia.

Ukrainian and Russian troops have held back from violent confrontations, with Kiev anxious to avoid giving Moscow a reason for overrunning its bases in Crimea.
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