Video: Putin surveys his new turf in Crimea

Why not? Vladimir Putin arrived by sea on Victory Day, the celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany — what the West calls V-E Day — 69 years ago. It may as well include this small reversal of Soviet fortunes, which might become more dramatic in the days and weeks ahead:

President Vladimir Putin extolled the return of Crimea to Russia before tens of thousands Friday during his first trip to Black Sea peninsula since its annexation. The triumphant visit was quickly condemned by Ukraine and NATO.

Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as “return to the Motherland” and a tribute to the “historical justice and the memory of our ancestors.” The peninsula of 2 million people had been part of Ukraine from 1954 until March.

The celebrations, which included a massive show of military muscle in the annual Red Square parade in Moscow and in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, came as Ukraine is struggling with its most serious political crisis in decades. Pro-Russia insurgents in the east are fighting the government in Kiev and preparing to hold a referendum Sunday on secession.

Putin’s remarks in Moscow extolled the days of empire, which makes the interview with Clarissa Ward and a separatist amusing. The Russian-speaking Ukrainian insists that Putin’s Russia is the only place where democracy can be found, as Putin himself tours a peninsula that he seized by military force.

CNN also notes Putin’s arrival, but gives a much less festive look at his supporters in eastern Ukraine, and much more skeptical overview of Putin’s motives:

Less than two months after Crimea was wrested from Ukraine’s grasp, there are fears that other parts of the country could go the same way.

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said Thursday that they had decided to go ahead with a Sunday referendum on greater local powers, defying a call by Putin to postpone the vote.

Putin had urged the pro-Russian sympathizers to delay the referendum to give dialogue “the conditions it needs to have a chance.”

But representatives from the council of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and separatists from Luhansk told reporters they had voted to press ahead to ask eastern Ukrainians there if they want sovereignty from Kiev.

Putin’s lips may say, “Wait, wait, wait,” but his triumphant entry into Crimea says something else entirely.

Trending on Hotair Video