MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - The following are excerpts from a speech by President Vladimir Putin to members of both houses of parliament, government members, business leaders and Crimean leaders in the Kremlin.
He made the speech to mark the signing of a treaty to bring Crimea into Russia.
“It was impossible to imagine that Ukraine and Russia could not be together. That they could be in separate states. But that is what happened. What seemed impossible, unfortunately occurred. The USSR broke up. The events happened so fast that few citizens understood the full-scale of the trauma of the events and their consequences”
“Millions of Russians went to sleep in one country and woke up in a foreign country - part became ethnic minorities in former Soviet republics. One of the most divided people on earth. Today, after many years, I heard how Crimeans not long ago said that in the 1990s they were passed from hand to hand like sacks of potatoes.”
“When Crimea suddenly became part of another state, it was then that Russia felt not only that something had been stolen from her, but that she had been mugged.”
“The (Crimean) issue has a vital importance, a historic importance for all of us ... In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia. This commitment, based on truth and justice, was firm, was passed from generation to generation.”
“It would be right if in Crimea, and I know that Crimeans support that, there will be three equal languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimea Tatar.”
“Our souls are aching over what is happening in Ukraine. We are one people. We simply cannot exist without one another.”
“Don’t believe those who try to frighten you with Russia and who scream that other (Ukrainian) regions will follow after Crimea. We do not want a partition of Ukraine, we do not need this.”
“Relations with Ukraine, the brotherly Ukrainian people, have always been, remain and will always be the most important and key for us, without any exaggeration.”
“Western partners, led by the United States, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun ... They have come to believe in their exceptionalism and their sense of being the chosen ones. That they can decide the destiny of the world, that it is only them who can be right.”
“In the case of Ukraine, our Western partners have crossed the line, have behaved themselves in a rude, irresponsible and unprofessional manner.”
“Some Western politicians are already trying to frighten us not only with sanctions but with the prospect of worsening internal problems. I would like to know what they mean by this: the actions of some kind of fifth column, various types of national traitors or do they expect that they can worsen Russia’s socio-economic situation and thereby trigger people’s discontent. We regard such statements as irresponsible and obviously aggressive and will respond appropriately.”
“We will never ourselves aim at confrontation with our partners neither in the East, nor in the West.”