In Crimea’s regional capital Simferopol thousands of people gathered to watch fireworks and celebrate Moscow’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.
The annexation was formalised earlier on Friday March 21, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty absorbing Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.
In Sevastopol, pensioner Vladimir Luzhpayev likened his feelings to those he had when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to enter outer space: “Now I have the same happiness in my soul. That’s what I can compare it to.
Crimea is breaking away from Ukraine to join Russia following a referendum held on the peninsula on March 16. The vote has been rejected by Ukraine and the West.
In the Russian capital, fireworks filled the sky over Red Square and crowds gathered to celebrate.
Moscow resident Viktoria said it was “very nice – unbelievable that this event has happened. We thank Putin who organised this for us.”