Putin: Crimea is like Jerusalem to Russia

Russian President criticizes Western sanctions in parliamentary speech.

Putin: Crimea is like Jerusalem to Russia

World Bulletin/News Desk

Russia will not bow to Western pressure, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, defending the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

"Crimea is to Russia what Jerusalem is to Muslims and Jews," Putin said in a speech at parliament. 

Russia took over Crimea in March after a controversial referendum, which drew the ire of international observers because Russian soldiers occupied the region during the voting process. 

More than 4,000 people have been killed and at least 9,000 wounded in the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine since mid-April, according to the UN.

The EU and the U.S. have imposed sanctions on Russia because of its alleged role in stirring unrest in Ukraine. 

"The West was unable to find other pretexts to curb Russia's influence," Putin added. 

Russia called the Kiev-based protests leading to the ouster of the pro-Russian government in February a coup.

Putin said his country is open to foreign investors, but due to the unrest in Ukraine, Western powers have imposed sanctions on Russia, preventing its energy industry from seeking financial resources from Western institutions. 

In addition, Russian energy companies are not allowed to import high-tech drilling equipment for energy exploration and production activities. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Aralık 2014, 17:32