|Putin concedes end of the road for Yanukovych, decries illegal armed overthrow in Ukraine
Russia has no need yet to send troops into Ukraine but reserves the right to use “all means'' to protect citizens should the necessity arise, President Vladimir Putin said today.
“We reserve the right to use all means to protect'' Russian and Ukrainian citizens in Ukraine, Putin said in comments live on state television, adding there was currently “no need'' to send troops into the country.
Earlier, he deplored the takeover of power in Ukraine by new authorities who deposed president Viktor Yanukovych as an anti-constitutional and armed seizure of power.
“There can only be one assessment of what happened in Kiev and Ukraine as a whole – this was an anti-constitutional takeover and armed seizure of power.''
These were his first comments on the crisis since the ouster of Yanukovych.
He also denied that Russian forces were operating in Crimea, saying that only "local forces of self-defense'' 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.''
He said Yanukovych had no political future but asserted he was legally still head of state.
"I think that he has no political future. And I told him this.''
Russia had offered sanctuary to Yanukovych for humanitarian reasons, he added.
Yanukovych would have been killed, he said.--AFP