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Russian defence minister is first senior official to visit Crimea after annexation

Published on Mar 24, 2014 7:53 PM
 
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (centre) listens to the head of the Russian army's main department of combat preparation Ivan Buvaltsev (tight) while watching military exercises at the Kirillovsky firing ground in the Leningrad region, on March 3, 2014, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) attending. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday, March 24, 2014 inspected troops and military facilities in Crimea, the first senior Russian official to travel to the Black Sea peninsula since Moscow absorbed the region into its territory, state television said.  -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday inspected troops and military facilities in Crimea, the first senior Russian official to travel to the Black Sea peninsula since Moscow absorbed the region into its territory, state television said.

Mr Shoigu, one of the closest allies of President Vladimir Putin in the Russian cabinet, inspected the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in the port of Sevastopol and also met Crimea's pro-Moscow prime minister Sergei Aksyonov.

The minister is by far the most important Russian official to visit Crimea since Moscow declared the region part of Russia, in defiance of the stance of the international community that it will always be part of Ukraine.

State television showed Mr Shoigu meeting Russian military forces in Crimea and also with former members of the Ukrainian armed forces who have elected to serve for Russia now that the peninsula is under Russian control.

 
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