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Russia reserves the right to intervene in Ukraine, says Putin

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.


Ukraine crisis – how it unfolded

NOVEMBER 2013
24: Thousands protest in Kyiv over government move to shelve EU association agreement.

DECEMBER
17: Ukraine secures a 11bn euro bailout from Russia.

JANUARY 2014
19: Up to 200,000 gather in Kyiv to show opposition to newly-enacted anti-protest laws. Clashes between police and protesters.
20: Clashes continue into second day.
22: Kyiv Post reports five killed and 300 injured as clashes intensify.
23: Truce announced which paves the way for arrested protestors to be released.
28: Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns. Nine of 11 anti-protests laws repealed after vote in parliament. Stand-off continues between police and protesters in Kyiv.

FEBRUARY
18: 20,000 protestors march to parliament with MPs set to debate a possible new constitution. At least 17 people, including seven policeman, are killed as fresh clashes erupt.
19: Truce agreed.
20: Truce breaks down, fresh clashes see 48-hour death toll rise to at least 77.
21: Peace deal signed, with talk of early elections. Violence spreads to western Ukraine.
22: Protesters freely take control of presidential buildings amid reports Yanukovych has fled. Parliament votes to remove him with fresh elections set for May. Yanukovych appears on TV and denounces a “coup dêtat”. Opposition leader Tymoshenko released from jail.
23: Tymoshenko ally becomes acting president, saying European integration is a priority
25: Parliament votes for ousted Yanukovych to be tried at International Criminal Court.
26: Interim government moves to disband Ukraine’s riot police force as leaks lift the lid on the high-living of ousted president Yanukovych
27: Reports emerge suggesting Yanukovych is now in Russia as parliament appoints new pro-EU government. It comes amid fears of separatism after pro-Russian gunmen takeover government building in Crimea.
28: Yanukovych, speaking at a press conference, vows to fight for Ukraine, calls new government illegitimate and denies ordering police to fire on protesters. It comes as gunmen seize airports in Crimea.

MARCH
1: Putin and Russian parliament back use of armed forces in Crimea – prompting US, UK, and Germany to condemn.
2: Ukraine calls up all its reservists and says country is on brink of disaster. NATO warns Russia over its military activities as Ukrainian navy commander defects to Crimea.
3: Rouble tumbles amid crisis, as foreign minister Sergei Lavrov defends Russia’s actions. UK calls crisis the biggest of this century

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