ROTTERDAM, August 15 -- Move by Russian leader seen as assurance to the annexed region that it is important to Kremlin.
President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will do its utmost to stop the bloodshed in Ukraine, but also that he has approved defense ministry plans to set up a military task force in Crimea.
Putin was addressing Russia's parliament on Thursday, known as Duma, that had travelled en masse from its normal seat in Moscow to Yalta in Crimea, in what many are seeing as a sign to the people of the recently annexed region that they have not been forgotten.
"We will do everything in our power so that this conflict is ended as soon as possible, so that the blood can stop flowing in Ukraine," Putin said.Putin had already been in the region for a few days, meeting its interim leaders.
"If Crimea wanted a display from the Russian government that it takes them and their causes seriously then this is it," our correspondent said.
Putin's address, ahead of a Duma extraordinary meeting, emphasized the work that was being done to transform Crimea during its "period of transition".
The Russian president pledged more than 700bn roubles would be sent to the region to creat new jobs and improve the transport and communication infastructure. Putin also said Russia would support the "rehabilitaiton of a repressed people" by preserving three official languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar. The Tatars have a fractous relationship with Russia, and many felt that their rights would be forgotten when the region was annexed.
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