Putin signs treaty to add Crimea to map of Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, Speaker of Crimean legislature Vladimir Konstantinov, second left, Crimean Premier Sergei Aksyonov, left, and Sevastopol mayor Alexei Chalyi, right, shake hands after signing a treaty for Crimea to join Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into Russia, describing the move as the restoration of historic injustice and a necessary response to what he called the Western encroachment on Russia’s vital interests. (AP Photo/Sergei Ilnitsky, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, Speaker of Crimean legislature Vladimir Konstantinov, second left, Crimean Premier Sergei Aksyonov, left, and Sevastopol mayor Alexei Chalyi, right, shake hands after signing a treaty for Crimea to join Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into Russia, describing the move as the restoration of historic injustice and a necessary response to what he called the Western encroachment on Russia’s vital interests. (AP Photo/Sergei Ilnitsky, Pool)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federation Council in Moscow’s Kremlin on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s move to annex Crimea, saying that the rights of ethnic Russians have been abused by the Ukrainian government. He pointed at the example of Kosovo’s independence bid supported by the West, and said that Crimea’s secession from Ukraine repeated Ukraine’s own secession from the Soviet Union in 1991. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 file photo former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 82, gives an interview to The Associated Press at the International Government Communication Forum, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Gorbachev said in remarks carried Tuesday, March 18, 2014, by online newspaper Slon.ru that the vote offered the Crimean residents the freedom of choice and justly reflected their will. Gorbachev hailed Crimea’s referendum that backed joining Russia as a “happy event.†(AP Photo/Al Moutasim Al Maskery, file)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federation Council in Moscow’s Kremlin on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Vladimir Putin defended Russiaís move to annex Crimea, saying that the rights of ethnic Russians have been abused by the Ukrainian government. He pointed at the example of Kosovoís independence bid supported by the West, and said that Crimeaís secession from Ukraine repeated Ukraineís own secession from the Soviet Union in 1991. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federation Council in Moscow’s Kremlin on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s move to annex Crimea, saying that the rights of ethnic Russians have been abused by the Ukrainian government. He pointed at the example of Kosovo’s independence bid supported by the West, and said that Crimea’s secession from Ukraine repeated Ukraine’s own secession from the Soviet Union in 1991. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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MOSCOW (AP) — With a sweep of his pen, President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to the map of Russia on Tuesday, describing the move as correcting past injustice and responding to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia’s vital interests.

In an emotional 40-minute speech televised live from the Kremlin, Putin said “in people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia.”

He dismissed Western criticism of Sunday’s Crimean referendum — in which residents of the strategic Black Sea peninsula overwhelmingly backed breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia — as a manifestation of the West’s double standards. Putin said the move followed what he described as Western pressure, arrogance and its stubborn refusal to take Russian concerns into account.

“If you push a spring too hard at some point it will spring back,” he said, addressing the West. “You always need to remember this.”

But the Russian leader insisted his nation has no intention of invading other regions of Ukraine.

“We don’t want a division of Ukraine, we don’t need that,” he said.

At the same time, Putin also argued that today’s Ukraine included “regions of Russia’s historic south” and was created on a whim by the Bolsheviks — a clear warning to both the new Ukrainian government in Kiev and to the West to respect Russia’s interests.

In response, Ukraine’s new government called Putin a threat to the whole world and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned that the U.S. and Europe will impose further sanctions against Moscow.

“The world has seen through Russia’s actions and has rejected the flawed logic,” Biden said, meeting Tuesday with anxious European leaders in Poland.

“Today’s statement by Putin showed in high relief what a real threat Russia is for the civilized world and international security,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Evhen Perebinis said on Twitter. “(The annexation) has nothing to do with law or with democracy or sensible thinking.”

Thousands of Russian troops have been massed along Ukraine’s eastern border for the last few weeks — Russia says that was for military training while the U.S. and Europe view the troops as an intimidation tactic.

“If Ukraine goes to NATO or the EU, Putin will do everything so that it goes there without the east and south,” said Vadim Karasyov, a Kiev-based political analyst. “Putin basically told the West that Russia has the right to veto the way Ukraine will develop. And if not, then Crimea is only a precedent of how pieces of Ukraine can be chopped off one by one.”

Putin argued the months of protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev that prompted President Viktor Yanukovych to flee to Russia had been instigated by the West in order to weaken Russia. He cast the new Ukrainian government as illegitimate, driven by radical “nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites.”

With strong emotion, Putin accused the West of cheating Russia and ignoring its interests in the years that followed the 1991 Soviet collapse.

“They have constantly tried to drive us into a corner for our independent stance, for defending it, for calling things their proper names and

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