AP_putin_ml_140318_16x9_992In a defiant speech to lawmakers today, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear he has no intention to back down from plans to annex Crimea, despite warnings from President Obama that doing so would incur further U.S. sanctions. Putin outlined the long historic ties between Crimea and Russia. He said that Russia had been “robbed in broad daylight” when Crimea remained part of Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that Crimea had been given away “like a sack of potatoes.” At the start of his remarks, Putin welcomed officials from the “Republic of Crimea,” as Russia recognizes the breakaway region. The comment drew a sustained standing ovation from the crowd. After the speech, Putin signed a treaty with Crimean officials paving the way for the region’s annexation by Russia. Russian lawmakers are expected to ratify the treaty later this week. MORE