No Russian forces in Crimea: Putin

Comment on this story
iol pic wld_URKAINE-CRISIS-_0304_11 REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a news conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow. Picture: Alexei Nikolskiy/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday 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.”

Ukraine's new authorities have said that several thousand Russian troops have poured into Crimea over the last days, in claims backed by Western officials.

However Putin portrayed the events that has seen armed men in unmarked uniforms seize several Ukrainian army bases in Crimea as an uprising by locals worried about the new authorities in Kiev.

Asked why the men are so well-equipped, Putin said that protesters in Kiev were also well equipped and worked “like clockwork”.

“They worked... like special forces,” he said. “Why should they not work as well in Crimea?”

“The Crimeans are very worried. For this reason they formed committees of self-defence and taken all armed forces under control.”

“Thank God that this was done without a single shot and everything is in the hands of the Crimean people.” - AFP

sign up

Comment Guidelines

  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

  5. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. You are only required to verify your email address once to have full access to commenting on articles. For more information please read our comment guidelines