(NEWSER) – Vladimir Putin opened his mouth and let the West have it today during his fiery formal proposal to annex Crimea, which he claimed "has always been part of Russia"; he likened the annexation to the reunification of East and West Germany. Putin declared the referendum to join Russia "more than convincing," reports the BBC, and denied other regions would follow, saying, "we don't need the division of Ukraine." The speech was "a classic Putin performance," tweeted the Guardian's Shaun Walker, going from loud and angry "to quiet clever exposition of hypocrisy. He's enjoying himself." He was greeted with a standing ovation; afterward, Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty making the territory part of Russia as the national anthem played. Elsewhere on the Crimean front:


  • Russia's lower house responded to US sanctions by suggesting "that the Americans include all the members of the Duma on their sanctions list," reports CNN. "Our principles aren't for sale and we aren't afraid of sanctions."
  • Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Crimea's secession vote a "happy event," the AP reports. It revealed that "people really wanted to return to Russia," the former Soviet president said, noting that Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians should have the same opportunity.

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