Russian fighters are among the separatist forces battling Ukraine's poorly equipped military for control of eastern provinces. A pullback of Moscow's troops could defuse tensions with the West.
The patrols and efforts to clean up barricades left by pro-Russia insurgents suggest a return to some kind of normalcy in Ukraine's restive east.
Separatists in eastern Ukraine say that Sunday's referendums strongly favored self-rule for two regions. But questions remain over the validity of a vote that Kiev has strongly rejected.
Putin praised Russia's 'iron will, fearlessness and steadfast courage' in World War II. He made only oblique references to the current crisis in Ukraine – but then headed to Sevastopol.