Putin, at concert in Red Square, celebrates first anniversary of Crimea annexation

Russia celebrates Crimea anniversary
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Story highlights

  • Putin attends concert in Red Square to celebrate anniversary of Crimean annexation
  • NATO reports Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea

(CNN)When Vladimir Putin reappears, he does it with style -- and an in-your-face attitude.

The Russian President attended a large concert in Moscow's Red Square on Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of his country's annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, an act condemned by many in the international community as illegal.
    Only Putin doesn't call it annexation. He calls it reunification.
    According to the presidential website, Putin attended the "We're Together!" concert and meeting "celebrating the first anniversary of Crimea and Sevastopol's reunification with Russia."
    The peninsula became part of the Soviet Union in 1917, following the Russian Revolution. But in 1991, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it became part of a newly independent Ukraine.
    On March 16, 2014, Crimea held a referendum on whether to continue as part of Ukraine or to cast its lot with the Russian Federation. The result was overwhelming, at least among those voting: 95% said they wanted to become part of Russia.
    A mere two days later, Russia annexed the territory. Putin said later that he had been planning the move even before the referendum was held.
    "Friends!" the President said in Red Square on Wednesday, according to his website, "Exactly one year ago, Russia, which we are speaking of so much right now, and the Russian people showed amazing togetherness and patriotism in supporting the aspirations of the people of Crimea and Sevastopol to return to their native shores."
    The issue, he said, was "our history, our spirituality and our statehood, the things that make us a single people and single united nation."
    Also participating, the website said, were "popular Russian music groups and singers."
    Putin was recently out of sight without explanation for 10 days, during which time various meetings were canceled. He reappeared only Monday.
    Russia moves nuclear-capable bombers to Crimea
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    Lest anyone doubt he was still in charge, Putin, who prides himself on his fitness, has been displaying a different form of muscle this week -- the military kind. He mobilized Russia's entire Northern Fleet in a military exercise that reportedly ranks among the largest since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
    NATO reported that, on Tuesday, Estonian radar detected an unspecified number of aircraft over the Baltic Sea.
    NATO sent jets to identify the planes and later reported that "the Russian military aircraft" flew on into the airspace of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.