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Russian incumbent President Vladimir Putin, is seen on screens as he delivers a speech on the stage during a rally, which marks the 10th anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, in Red Square in central Moscow, on March 18.Stringer/Reuters

A day after securing a new six-year term, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared briefly at an open-air concert on Red Square on Monday to mark the 10th anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The annexation of the Black Sea peninsula was a precursor to Moscow’s seizure of four other Ukraine regions in 2022 that it has declared parts of Russia, in actions condemned as illegal by most countries at the United Nations.

Putin told a large, flag-waving crowd that the “return” of those other regions to Russia had turned out to be “much more grave and tragic” than Crimea’s, but it had been accomplished.

Two years after Putin launched what he calls his “special military operation”, Russia has not fully captured the four regions, but voting in Russia’s three-day presidential election that ended on Sunday was held in the parts of Ukraine that its forces control. Ukraine said the exercise was illegal and void.

Putin said officials had reported early on Monday that rail links had been restored from Rostov in southern Russia to the Russian-controlled cities of Donetsk, Mariupol and Berdyansk, and further upgrades would follow.

President Vladimir Putin won a record post-Soviet landslide in Russia's election on Sunday, March 17, cementing his grip on power. Thousands of opponents staged a protest at polling stations and the United States said the vote was neither free nor fair. Angela Johnston reports.


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