Putin visits Crimea amid pro-reunification rallies in Russia
Russians are protesting against countries they consider to be unfriendly on the ninth anniversary of the reunification of Crimea with Russia.
Russians rallied in the country's capital on Saturday outside the embassies of countries that Moscow sees as unfriendly on the ninth anniversary of Crimea's accession to the Russian Federation, the Molodaya Gvardia youth movement said Saturday.
Over 5,000 people demonstrated outside the embassies of 20 "unfriendly" nations including the United States, France, Germany, and Poland, said Molodaya Gvardia, meaning The Young Guard.
According to the youth movement, the countries in question "support Ukraine... and also actively supply lethal weapons to the Ukrainian regime," they said.
Around 400 activists gathered outside the US embassy in Moscow holding up posters with messages such as "Crimea with Russia forever" or "The United States, you sow death", AFP reported, citing a correspondent.
Russian flags were raised on the Crimean mountains to mark the anniversary of the region's accession to Russia, Crimean emergency minister Sergey Shlyakov said"
The flag-raising in the Crimean mountains on March 18 has become a good tradition. Rescuers express their support by celebrating the date together with all Crimeans," Shlyakov said.
Molodaya Gvardia head Anton Demido told AFP that Crimea, with the help of the weapons being supplied by the West, "can be fired upon and already is."
On October 8, the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee reported an explosion on the Crimean Bridge, where a truck was blown up on the motorway section of the Crimean Bridge from the Taman Peninsula.
The attack caused seven fuel tanks of a train traveling to the Crimean peninsula to go up in flames. Two motorway sections of the bridge have partially collapsed.
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"Those countries that supply lethal weapons, we consider them accomplices of this crime," Demido underlined.
Furthermore, the French agency added that a similar, smaller demonstration, comprising 200 people took place outside the British embassy.
This comes after it was reported in January that the United States was considering providing Ukraine with the weapons necessary to target the Crimean Peninsula, which is instrumental for Russia's operations during the war in Ukraine.
The administration believes that threatening Russia's control of Crimea could improve Kiev's position in future negotiations. However, this may increase the risk of escalating the conflict, the report said on Wednesday.
It is noteworthy that the Biden administration has so far been unwilling to provide Ukraine with the long-range missiles that Kiev would need to attack Crimea, out of fear that such a move could provoke Russia and widen the conflict, according to the report.
Read next: Russian committee confirms Ukraine involvement in Crimea bridge attack
However, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said in February that his country was not actively encouraging Ukraine to retake control of Crimea, but the decision is Kiev’s alone.
After someone on the call asked if Washington was willing to assist Ukraine in seizing Russia's Crimea, Blinken considered that this would represent a red line for Russian President Vladimir Putin that could provoke a wider response from Moscow.
Putin visits Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the region's incorporation into Russia, visiting during his trip newly opened historical and architectural sites on the peninsula, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"Today, on the anniversary of Crimea's reunification with Russia, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has traveled to the region. In particular, he visited the Tauric Chersonese National Park and its new sites," Peskov said.
Furthermore, Peskov revealed that Putin was accompanied by Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Ravozhayev.
Crimea became part of Russia following a referendum held in March 2014, in which nearly 96% of Crimeans voted for accession to Russia.
While Ukraine still considers the peninsula to be its own territory, Russia has repeatedly stressed that the decision made by the Crimean people was in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Crimea issue is "closed".