Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, shakes hands with WWII veterans as Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, centre left, salutes after the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow. Picture: Pavel Golovkin

Sevastopol, Crimea - President Vladimir Putin went to Crimea on Friday for the first time since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March, a visit that is likely to anger the Ukrainian leadership and upset the West.

The Kremlin press service said Putin had flown to Crimea after presiding over the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow marking the anniversary of the World War Two victory over Nazi Germany.

He was expected to attend a military parade and other war anniversary events in Crimea. This year is also the 70th anniversary of the battle in which the Red Army won back control of the Black Sea peninsula from the Nazis.

Putin is sure to receive a hero's welcome in the port city of Sevastopol, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based, but Western leaders do not recognise the March 21 annexation of Crimea.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Merkel said earlier this week that although May 9 was an important date in Russia, the conflict in Ukraine made a parade in Crimea inappropriate. - Reuters