YALTA, Ukraine, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- President Vladimir Putin called for the recognition of the historical and spiritual origins of Crimea while speaking during a meeting on the peninsula to promote tourism.
"Naturally, we need to develop archaeological tourism and everything, which is linked to the establishment of the Russian nation as such that happened after the adoption of Christianity by Prince Vladimir who then baptized the rest of Russia," he said, as reported by TASS.
"It's a very important thing. We should also pass relevant decisions at the federal levels so that they could be implemented as you suggest," he continued. During his three-day visit to Crimea, Putin met representatives of various minorities, including the Tatars, at a luxury resort in the village of Opolznevoye, reported Interfax.
Putin also stressed the historical need to honor the memory of the 1853-1856 Crimean war.
"I cannot say that everything with regards to that war has been buried in oblivion like it was the case with World War II. They tried to forget it altogether. It was slightly different here. But it is absolutely clear that little attention is being paid to it," underscored Putin.
In late July, President Putin marked 1,000 years since the death of Prince Vladimir the Great. The Russian leader credited the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic saint with bringing Christianity to the country during the Middle Ages. Vladimir was also noted for expanding education, judicial institutions and giving aid to the poor. His memory has been immortalized through Russian folk ballads.
In December, Putin also compared Crimea's spiritual holiness as akin to "the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for followers of Islam and Judaism," largely since Vladimir was baptized there.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Monday Putin's visit to Crimea was meant to stir up more tensions in an already volatile and dangerous region. Residents have described the recent battles near the town of Donetsk as the "heaviest fighting" in more than three months.
In comments made Tuesday, Putin said that Kiev, not pro-Russian militias, was responsible for the current escalation of violence. "We are now seeing escalation, and the blame lies not with militias, but with the opposition side," Putin told reporters in Sevastopol.
"It was the militia in Donbass, who proposed to withdraw all military hardware with the under 100 mm caliber. Unfortunately, the opposite side failed to do it and on the contrary, according to our data, is concentrating there its [military] detachment," Putin continued.
"I hope that it will not come to direct large-scale clashes. As for the Minsk-2 agreement, I believe there is no other alternative for resolving the situation and that peace will prevail in the long run. Our task is to minimize the losses, with which we will come to this peace," he added.