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Putin, 2006: Crimea is 'Part of the Ukraine'

Putin, 2006: Crimea is 'Part of the Ukraine'

In 2006, at a meeting with members of the South African Parliament, Russian president Vladimir Putin noted that the Crimea “was now part of the Ukraine.” Earlier this year, Russia annexed the Crimea in an action that was rejected by the international community, as Putin declared that the Crimea “can only be Russian today.”

The South African episode was recalled by former opposition leader and ambassador Tony Leon in his memoir, On the Contrary: Leading the Opposition in a Democratic South Africa (full disclosure: I worked for Leon and assisted him in preparing his memoir). Leon wrote that he told Putin, by way of introductory pleasantries, that he had a “Russian grandmother” from the Crimea. 

The response from Putin is illuminating in retrospect: “In his intense, polite fashion Putin deadpanned in response that the Crimea was now part of the Ukraine…”.

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