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NATO chief: Putin’s Crimea visit ‘inappropriate’

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — NATO’ secretary-general says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea is “inappropriate” and the alliance still views the Black Sea peninsula as Ukrainian territory.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen says NATO considers the Russian annexation of Crimea to be illegal and that “from my knowledge the Ukrainian authorities haven’t invited Putin.”

He made the comments Friday after a speech in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. He also said there’s no “visible evidence” of Russian claims of a troop withdrawal from the border with Ukraine.

He said: “We’ve seen such announcements also in the past, without any withdrawal of Russian troops so we’re very cautious. I would be the first to welcome it if Russian troops were pulled out, if we see a clear and meaningful withdrawal, because it would contribute to de-escalate the crisis.”