Putin says Russia will stop all threats to Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again justified his decision to annex Crimea in southern Ukraine ahead of the ninth anniversary of Moscow's unilateral annexation on March 18.

Putin held an online meeting with local leaders in Crimea on Friday. Authorities there held a referendum on joining Russia in 2014 and announced a majority of the population had voted in favor.

Putin said, "The people of Crimea and Sevastopol made their unequivocal and final historical choice to become part of our large and united country once again and for all time."

He added, "Security is a priority for Crimea and Sevastopol, especially today. We will do our best to stop any threats."

People in Ukraine and Russia have expressed conflicting views on Crimea.

Many people in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv said Ukraine should take back Crimea. A 25-year-old man said driving Russians out of the region was the only way to end the war.

A number of people in Russia's capital, Moscow, claimed Crimea historically belongs to Russia. But an 18-year-old man questioned why the two countries were fighting over the region. He said he would not take a side as he thinks it is possible to resolve the issue in a peaceful way.