MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday moved to annex the breakaway Ukrainian region of Crimea but sought to reassure Ukraine by saying Russia has no further designs on its neighbor’s territory.
In an otherwise defiant speech to parliament and top officials, Mr. Putin dismissedsanctions and threats of other consequences from Europe and the U.S., saying the West had “crossed the line” by fomenting what he called a putsch in Kiev earlier this year.
Mr. Putin signed treaties formally annexing Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol, which has long had a separate administrative status.
Even if he stops there, Mr. Putin’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula would be the first such move in Europe since the end of World War II, upending long-held assumptions about security on the continent and potentially condemning Russia to a period of prolonged isolation.Mr. Putin’s public statements during the crisis haven’t always aligned with Russian actions. Only two weeks ago, he said Moscow had no plans to annex Crimea.