(March 18) Today's Top Headlines - Putin slams West, begins annexing Crimea - Today's Headlines - Explorer

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(March 18) Today's Top Headlines - Putin slams West, begins annexing Crimea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin tore into the U.S. and its allies over the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday, criticizing "Western exceptionalism” that sees itself as “always right.”

“We have to stop this Cold War rhetoric and realize that Russia is an independent nation ... you have to respect those interests of Russia,” he told a joint session of parliament in Moscow, to rapturous applause from lawmakers.

"Our Western partners crossed the line,” Putin said, accusing Ukraine and its allies of being "unprofessional."

He made a direct appeal to Americans, who he said were "proud of the fact that they hold freedom above all else" and referred to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, asking why Crimea's right to self-determination should be any different.

He said Russia was "always being cornered" by the international community "because we have an independent position, because we stand firmly on it, because we call things by their real names, and we are not hypocritical."

For the full story, visit: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/putin-slams-west-calls-end-cold-war-rhetoric-n55386

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