Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in Kerch on July 16 for a keel laying ceremony for new Russian Navy warships, announced Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Peskov said that the ceremony will be held at the Crimean shipyard Zaliv (Gulf) where Putin will also meet with its workers.
On the same day, the new ships will be laid down at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk and at the Severnaya Verf (Northern Shipyard) in St. Petersburg. Peskov noted that the president will speak with both shipyards over video link.
In January, Putin said that Russia should strengthen the status of one of the leading maritime powers in the 21st century. According to the President, the share of modern models of weapons of the Russian fleet should soon reach 70%.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.