Putin: We Reserve Right to Use Force in Ukraine
Doing so would be legit, because Yanukovich asked for such help
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2014 6:05 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2014 7:17 AM CST
In this frame grab provided by the Russian Television via the APTN, President Vladimir Putin, during a live feed, answers journalists' questions on the current situation around Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Russian Television via APTN)

(Newser) – Vladmir Putin today addressed the situation in Ukraine in no uncertain terms, stating that Russia has no intention of annexing Crimea or using force in the region, but that it "will do so as a last resort. Russia reserves the right to use all means to protect citizens in Ukraine," which Putin called "not our closest neighbor, but our brother."

  • The Washington Post notes that "Putin spoke as if there were no Russian troops in Ukraine," but emphasized that the use of such troops would "be in line with international law." CNN adds that he called the potential use of force "completely legitimate," because such help has been requested by the "legitimate president": Yanukovich.

  • Per the BBC, Putin noted that Yanukovich could only be removed from office in one of three ways: death, resignation, or impeachment. While he doesn't think Yanukovich "has a political future," Putin explained that Russia helped him as a "humanitarian" gesture; "otherwise he'd just have been killed."
  • He also reserved some choice words for the West, particularly the US, faulting it for supporting what he sees as an "unconstitutional overthrow and an armed seizure of power." The US sits "there across the pond as if in a lab running all kinds of experiments on the rats," he said, per the Post. As for the G8, if Western leaders don't want to attend, "they don't have to," per the Telegraph.
More on the Ukraine front: The first warning shots were fired in Crimea today.