MOSCOW: The Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday visited Crimea and addressed sailors in Sevastopol harbour as part of celebrations marking the 1945 Soviet victory over the Nazis.
This was the first visit by the Russian leader since Crimea reintegrated with Russia in March following a referendum.
The Ukrainian government protested at the visit and called it a gross violation of the country’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the Russian president’s visit to Crimea as inappropriate.
Talking to media in Estonian capital Tallinn, Rasmussen said that NATO does not recognize Crimea’s annexation to Russia. The NATO chief also accused Russia of destabilizing the security situation in Europe.
On the other hand, at least eight pro-Russia activists were killed during heavy fighting with Ukrainian forces in the southern port city of Mariupol on Friday.
The clashes broke out while Ukrainian army troops were trying to take over a police headquarters controlled by pro-Russia crowds, Ukrainian and Russian media said.