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Ukraine in ‘full-scale civil war’ - Putin

Saint Petersburg -

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the crisis in Ukraine had evolved into a full-scale civil war, blaming Washington for backing the overthrow of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014 (SPIEF 2014) in St Petersburg. Picture: Sergei Karpukhin. Credit: REUTERS

“The Ukrainian crisis arose because Yanukovych postponed the association agreement with the European Union. This was followed by a coup backed by our American friends and as a result there is chaos and full-scale civil war,” Putin told an economic forum in Saint Petersburg.

He also defended Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March, saying it had followed a democratic vote for independence and prevented a tragedy like the inferno in the port city of Odessa this month that left dozens of pro-Moscow activists dead.

“With regard to Crimea, our position is clear... They voted in favour - that is an undeniable fact,” Putin said.

“If this had not been done we would have seen a tragedy, like we saw in other cities. Like in Odessa where 50 people were burned alive. I think we did the right thing.” - Sapa-AFP

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