BRUSSELS - The European Union criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for attending a military parade in Crimea on Friday, saying he should not use the commemoration of victory in World War Two to showcase Russia's annexation of the region.

"The European Union notes with regret the presence of President Vladimir Putin at a military parade ... in Sebastopol, Crimea," Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said.

"An important day in our shared history, dedicated to honoring the enormous sacrifices and giving remembrance to the millions of dead in the Second World War, should not have been instrumentalist to give visibility to the illegal annexation of Crimea," she said.

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