Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first visit to Crimea since the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula. During a triumphant visit to Sevastopol on Victory Day, Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as "return to the Motherland".

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A former serviceman marches with a Soviet navy flag to mark Victory Day in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.Reuters
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (r), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (l) and Black Sea fleet commander Vice Admiral Aleksander Vitko (m) watch events to mark Victory day in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.Reuters
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Russian servicemen march during celebrations to mark Victory Day in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.Reuters

The celebrations came amid Ukraine's struggle with its most serious political crisis in decades. Pro-Russia insurgents in the east have occupied government buildings and are preparing to hold a referendum on secession.

Clashes between government forces and rebels in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol have left several people dead.

The Donetsk regional administration said three people were killed during the fighting, but Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that 20 "terrorists" and one police officer were killed when 60 gunmen tried to capture the police station.

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A masked man jumps over a burning barricade in front of the police headquarters in Mariupol. Ukrainian forces attacked the police headquarters in Mariupol in an attempt to drive out pro-Russian militants, and the building caught fire, according to a Ukrainian parliamentary deputy.Reuters
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Firefighters inspect the burnt-out police headquarters in Mariupol after Ukrainian forces attempted to drive out pro-Russian militants, and the building caught fireReuters

Victory Day is Russia's most important secular holiday, honouring Soviet armed forces and the millions who died in World War II.

Earlier in Moscow, Putin watched as about 11,000 Russian troops proudly marched across Red Square followed by columns of dozens of tanks and rocket launchers.

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A man holds a Soviet flag during celebrations to mark Victory Day outside a regional government building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.Reuters
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Veterans march during celebrations to mark Victory Day outside a regional government building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.Reuters
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Ukrainian soldiers march during a ceremony commemorating victims of World War II in Donetsk.Getty
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Members of the Ukrainian military attend a Victory Day ceremony in Donetsk.Getty
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Navy cadets stand near of a World War II memorial during celebrations to mark Victory Day in the Black Sea port of Odessa.Reuters
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A former Soviet serviceman holds a carnation as he attends a wreath-laying ceremony at a World War Two memorial in Odessa, Ukraine.Reuters
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A member of navy honour guard yawns during celebrations to mark Victory Day in the Black Sea port of Odessa.Reuters
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People hold a giant St George's ribbon during events to commemorate Victory Day in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.Reuters
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Anti-Putin graffiti reading "Putler kaput" is seen on a wall in the western Ukrainian city of LvivReuters
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A woman gives flowers to an armed Pro-Russia man riding an armoured personnel carrier during celebrations to mark Victory Day in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine.Reuters
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An armed pro-Russian activist stands with a flower in his gun barrel during celebrations to mark Victory Day in Slovyansk.Reuters
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A woman holds a child dressed in Soviet army uniform near a Soviet-era tank during events to mark Victory Day in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk.Reuters