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During an epic question-and-answer session with the Russian public Thursday, President Vladimir Putin dropped a reference that is likely to be obscure to many in the West. Talking about the Ukrainian elections and ethnic Russians in that country's east, Putin took a detour through history.
"I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then," Putin said. "The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained."