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Russian Prime Minister Medvedev visits Crimea

This is the first high-level visit to the Black Sea peninsula since its annexation by Moscow earlier this month

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Crimea on Monday with several members of his government on the highest level visit to the Black Sea peninsula since its annexation by Moscow earlier this month.

“[I'm] in Simferopol,” Medvedev said on Twitter after his plane landed in the main city in the region, which Western governments say Russia has illegally seized from Ukraine. “Today the government will discuss the development of Crimea here.”

During the visit, Medvedev announced that Russia will make Crimea a special economic zone offering tax breaks and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors.

“Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development,” Medvedev said.

The visit comes after President Barack Obama in an interview aired Friday said Russia must “move back” its troops back from the Ukraine border and start negotiating with the international community, Agence France-Presse reported.

Obama told CBS News that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to assemble forces on the border may “simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that they’ve got additional plans.”

Although estimates of troop numbers vary vastly, Obama said that “to de-escalate the situation” Russia should “move back those troops and begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government as well as the international community.”