Putin: Crimea will be part of Russia forever

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea, which his country annexed seven years ago, and said the region will always be part of Russia.

Putin visited the Crimea military port city of Sevastopol on Thursday and delivered a speech to mark National Unity Day, a holiday he created in 2005.

He stressed that Crimea is now forever with Russia, because it is the sovereign, free and unyielding will of all the Russian people.

The United States and European nations have imposed economic sanctions on Russia following the annexation of Crimea. They say the peninsula is the territory of Ukraine.

Russian media reported on Thursday that the Russian Navy stationed in Sevastopol is closely monitoring North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, military exercises in the Black Sea, which faces Crimea.

The US Navy is also participating in the exercises. The report says Russia is concerned about actions taken by the United States and European countries.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that Ukraine’s foreign minister will visit Washington next week. He said the United States will reaffirm its commitment and support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity regarding Crimea.

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