Putin: Russia force only ‘last resort’ in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

It is President Putin’s first statement on the crisis since Russian troops poured into Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin says there is no need yet to send Russian troops into Ukraine.

But Russia reserves the right to use “all means” to protect citizens in the east of the country, Mr Putin said.

He denied Russian troops had besieged Ukrainians based in Crimea – they were pro-Russian “self-defence” forces.

Mr Putin called the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych in the capital Kiev an “anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power”.

Crimea remains a major focus of the crisis, as troops in what appear to be Russian uniforms surround Ukrainian military bases and other installations. Russia is de facto in control of the peninsula.

Tensions were especially high at Belbek airbase near Sevastopol, the port city which is the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Pro-Russian forces fired warning shots in the air, and Ukrainian troops later marched away from the base.

Meanwhile, two Ukrainian warships are reported to be blocked by a Russian ship in the port of Sevastopol.

There is intense diplomatic activity aimed at defusing the crisis.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Kiev to meet Ukraine’s new leaders and show support for the country’s sovereignty.

He will head to Kiev’s Independence Square – the Maidan – to lay flowers for victims of last month’s violence, before heading into meetings with the new government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to meet the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in the Spanish capital Madrid.

Continue reading the main story in BBC

Categories: Europe and Australia, Russia, Ukraine

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2 replies

  1. The Americans seem to consider ‘sanctions’. It will be funny when the Russians close the gas pipeline to Europe as a reply … Europe: Stock up on blankets!!! (not sure how you will cook your food: BBQ in the garden every day? (cut down your forests?)

  2. Russia reports ballistic missile test amid Crimea tension

    The Russian military says it has test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, as tension continues over Ukraine’s Crimea region.

    A Topol RS-12M missile was launched from Russia’s Kapustin Yar test range near the Caspian Sea to the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan, it said.

    It comes after the US accused Russia of an “act of aggression” in Crimea.

    The US said it was given advance notice of the missile launch, as required by bilateral arms treaties.

    “We have been notified of this test earlier this week, it’s not unexpected,” a defence official told the AFP news agency.

    The Topol was fired at 22:10 (18:10 GMT), the defence ministry in Moscow said, adding: “The aim of the launch was to test a promising intercontinental ballistic missile payload.”

    The nuclear-capable missile reached its target successfully, it said.

    Tests of the missile, one of Russia’s newest, are not unusual but the timing of the launch if confirmed, is likely to alarm observers of the crisis with Ukraine.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26442381

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