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Putin visits annexed Crimea on Victory Day

Russian Air Force helicopter Mi-26, center, with Mi-8, flies over Red Square during a Victory Day parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 9, 2014. Russia marked the Victory Day on May 9 holding a military parade at Red Square. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin) -
Russian Air Force helicopter Mi-26, center, with Mi-8, flies over Red Square during a Victory Day parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 9, 2014. Russia marked the Victory Day on May 9 holding a military parade at Red Square. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)
— image credit:

By Vladimir Isachenkov And Ivan Sekretarev, The Associated Press

On a triumphant visit Friday to Crimea, President Vladimir Putin hailed Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula as he celebrated Victory Day, the most important day in the Russian calendar.

Putin gave a speech in the city of Sevastopol — it was his first trip to Crimea since the region left Ukraine and became part of Russia in March.

The Russian leader watched a parade of Russian navy ships and a flyby of Russian aircraft marking the Victory Day commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Earlier in the day, Putin was in Moscow for a massive show of military muscle in the annual Red Square parade on Victory Day.

Putin made no reference to the situation in Ukraine in his speech in Moscow, which focused on the historic importance of the victory over the Nazis

Ukraine has condemned Putin's visit to Crimea as trampling on international law.

The Victory Day celebrations come at a time when the world's attention is focused on Ukraine's political crisis. Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine have been fighting with the government and are preparing to hold a referendum on secession on Sunday.

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Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Yuras Karmanau in Odesa, Ed Brown in Donetsk and Mark Rachkevych in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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