KIEV, Ukraine, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that President Vladimir Putin's visit to Crimea Monday was meant to stir up more tensions in an already volatile and dangerous situation within the region. The Russian president pledged to ease visa rules for foreign visitors.
"The arrival by Putin in Crimea without the authorization of the Ukrainian authorities is a challenge to the civilized world and part of the scenario to exacerbate the situation the situation, which is being implemented by the Russian military and their mercenaries in Donbass," a statement posted on the president's official Facebook page Monday, as translated by Interfax-Ukraine.
Putin visited Yalta in Crimea to promote tourism in the peninsula, the Kremlin reported.
The Russian leader said that the Kremlin will consider simplifying visa rules for foreign tourists from countries including Brazil, India and China in order to provide a much needed boost to the industry.
"The number of foreign tourists in Russia increased by 16 percent. Of course, as we understand well, the current economic situation plays its role, price conditions, the currency rates difference," Putin said Monday, as reported in Ukraine Today. "Vacations in many foreign countries have become more expensive, if one translates it into roubles. But it is also obvious that positive changes happened in the domestic tourist industry itself."
At least seven civilians and two Ukrainian troops were killed in eastern Ukraine late Sunday night, exacerbating tension in the already volatile military conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army. Residents have described the recent battles near the town of Donetsk as the "heaviest fighting" in more than three months.
"I am sure, that despite all the current difficulties, the situation in Ukraine will improve and Ukraine will develop positively," Putin said this weekend, according to news reports.