April 17, 2014
“This is nonsense, there are no Russian troops in the east of Ukraine,” Vladimir Putin said, adding that the Kiev government should talk to the local residents to tackle the problem, not send in tanks to deal with it.
“All the people that are in the eastern Ukraine are local residents, and the main proof is that they’ve taken their masks off – literally. It’s their home, and they have nowhere to leave to,” Putin stressed.
President also criticized the coup-imposed Kiev government’s actions.
“Instead of recognizing that something wrong is happening in the Ukrainian state and making an attempt to have dialogue, they started to threaten the people with force and went as far as moving their tanks and planes on to the civilian population. It’s another very serious crime by the Kiev leaders,” Putin said.
The Russian president said the Kiev government should negotiate with those people, not with their henchmen.
When asked who the people wearing green uniforms that were noticed in Crimea were, Putin answered that those were self-defense squads.
However, during the referendum itself, there were concerns that it could be disrupted, so there were Russian troops behind the self-defense squads to prevent the escalation of the situation and any provocations, president added.
Answering a question by an ex-Berkut – Ukrainian special forces – commander as to whether the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has always been such a “weakling and traitor,” Putin said that Yanukovich did his duty as he thought possible and necessary.
“I’ve spoken with him, certainly, many times, during the crisis, and after he arrived in the Russian Federation, and we talked about using force… The gist of his answer was that he, as he told me, thought about using force many times, but he, as he said, didn’t have the heart to sign an act that would see force used against his citizens,” Putin said.
Asked if it was possible that a limited contingent of Russian troops could be deployed in eastern Ukraine or whether the Aviation Forces could be used there, Putin stressed that one shouldn’t fall into euphoria after the situation in Crimea and that he hopes for political solution for the crisis.
Touching on other topics, Putin said that there is no question of Russia forming a military and political bloc with China.
“We’re natural neighbors, and therefore at certain extent natural allies. We don’t have any military and political bloc on the agenda,” President said.
President Putin is holding his annual Q&A session with the Russian people, amid record approval ratings.
The Q&A session comes as 71 percent Russians say they trust Putin completely or almost completely.
Residents of Moscow, the Volga Region and northwestern Russia have been the most active in sending in questions so far.
The majority of questions come from pensioners. The second place is occupied by people from 35 to 55 years old. Some of those who called just said they wanted to support the president and his position on Ukraine, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.
Last year, the Q&A session with the President lasted for almost five hours.
This article was posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 5:18 am