Russian President Vladimir Putin has used his New Year's speech to hail Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.
Putin said Crimea's "return home" will "forever remain an important milestone in our history."
His comments were part of a prepared annual address already broadcast in Russia's Far Eastern regions, where the New Year was celebrated hours ahead of Moscow, given the time difference.
Putin also thanked Russians for their "unfaltering readiness to defend Russia's interests."
Putin said: "I would like to sincerely thank you for unity and solidarity, for the deep feelings of truth, honor, justice, and responsibility for the fate of your country."
Putin also hailed Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics in the resort town of Sochi as the "best ever."
Based on reporting by AFP and AP