Putin Says Crimea Was "Stolen" From Russia, Signs Annexation Treaty

Ignoring sanctions from the U.S. and E.U., a defiant Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia would annex Crimea, which he said "has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people."

Speaking in front of Russian parliament, Putin said Crimea was "stolen" from Russia 60 years ago, when the Soviet Union allocated the region to Ukraine.

"The people of Crimea were not asked about anything," Putin said to cheers. "It was hard to imagine then that Russia and Ukraine would be different countries. But it happened. The U.S.S.R. collapsed. When Crimea became part of a different state Russia felt it was stolen. A million people went to bed in one country and woke up in another."

Just after the speech, Putin signed a treaty with Crimean leaders to annex Crimea. On Sunday, more than 97 percent of Crimea reportedly voted in favor of seceding from Ukraine.

[Image via AP]