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'An anti-constitutional coup': Vladimir Putin isn't happy about events in Ukraine

The Russian president is addressing journalists in Moscow this morning.

Vladimir Putin speaking to journalists today
Vladimir Putin speaking to journalists today
Image: Screengrab via Russia Today

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin has said that recent events in Ukraine, which forced elected president Viktor Yanukovych to flee, amount to “anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power”.

Speaking at a media conference this morning, Putin has said that while his country has no need yet to send troops into Ukraine, his government reserves the right to use “all means” to protect citizens should the necessity arise.

“We reserve the right to use all means to protect” Russian and Ukrainian citizens in Ukraine, Putin said in comments live on state television, adding there was currently “no need” to send troops into the country.

He insisted that Russia is not considering annexing Crimea.

Russian and Ukrainian troops in the Crimea region have been involved in a tense stand-off in recent days although Putin’s decision to call a halt to “military exercises” has eased the crisis in the last few hours.

image

[Screengrab via Russia Today]

He denied that Russian forces were operating in Crimea, saying that only “local forces of self-defence” were surrounding Ukrainian military bases in the region.

Asked if Russian forces took part in operations in Crimea he said, “No, they did not participate,” adding: “There are lots of uniforms that look similar.”

Speaking about recent events in Kiev where opposition demonstrators and government forces clashed violently, Putin said that the ousted president Yanukovych has told him he did not order troops to fire on protesters.

“There is a point of view that snipers who shot demonstrators in Kiev were actually provocateurs from an opposition party. Yanukovych assured me he did not order police to fire at protesters,” he said.

He said he saw Yanukovich “a few days ago, and he is alive” adding that “he will outlive those who circulate rumours”.

However, the strongman president said it was his view that Yanukovych has “no political future” and said he had told the ousted leader he would have been killed had he not helped him.

Putin added that the threat of sanctions against Russia by Western allies are “counter productive and harmful”.

- with reporting from AFP

Read: “Military intervention is never the answer”: Russia Today presenter goes rogue live on air

Read: “Frightening and dangerous”: Taoiseach hopeful Ukraine crisis can be solved through diplomacy

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Hugh O'Connell

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