Russia will only use force as ‘a last resort’ in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Moscow. It was the hotly anticipated response from the leader to the recent developments in Crimea. He denied that any Russian troops were stationed in the country, claiming that local defence forces were securing the area. Though he said Russia was refraining from military action he added that in the case of lawlessness, they reserved the right to intervene.
Responding to a question on threats from the West, he replied “those who want to take sanctions will have to face the consequences,” continuing, “I think in the modern world where everybody depends on everybody, and everything is linked, you can do damage to each other. And that can go both ways.”
Answering a reporter about the recent communique that Western leaders will boycott the upcoming G8 meeting in Sochi this summer, he said, “We are ready to welcome our colleagues, we are preparing the G8, but if they don’t want to come, well, we don’t need them”.
Putin described recent upheaval in Ukraine as a coup d’etat adding that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych remains the legitimate leader of the country.
“The citizens of some territories can and must determine their own future,” he said answering about the rights of the Ukrainian people, continuing, “this right was given to Kosovan people and other people in different parts of the world, so this right to self-determination which is granted by the UN rules still exists, I guess.”
Putin confirmed that Yanukovych was alive and well, despite rumours that he had suffered a heart attack. He added that if Yanukovych had remained in Ukraine he would have been killed.