MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that he would not have to use the right to order the deployment of Russia’s military forces in Ukraine.
“I remind you that the Russian Federation Council has given the president the right to use the armed forces in Ukraine. I hope that I won’t have to use this right and that we will be able to solve all the pressing problems in Ukraine today by political and diplomatic means,” Putin said during a live Q&A session with the public on Thursday.
Russia’s upper house of parliament unanimously approved last month a request from President Putin to deploy military forces in Ukraine in a move he said was aimed at protecting human rights and Russian citizens in the region. Putin has not formally ordered any deployments.
Crimea, a predominantly ethnic Russian region, which was undemocratically gifted to Ukraine by Soviet leaders 60 years ago, rejected the legitimacy of the new self-proclaimed Western-backed government, and moved to rejoin Russia last month after the government in Kiev introduced measures aimed against Russian-speakers in the country.
During a live Q&A session, Putin said he believes that there is no need to be “euphoric” after the reunification of Crimea, taking into the account that the Crimean residents are different from those living in southeastern Ukraine.
“We should not be euphoric, over what is occurring in Crimea, we must always be realistic,” Putin said.
Ukrainian forces launched a special operation Tuesday in a crackdown on pro-federalization activists in eastern regions of the country. Moscow condemned the move, saying it was an extremely unpleasant turn of events.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier called on the United States and its allies to stop laying the blame for the unrest in Ukraine’s southeast at Russia’s doorstep. He rebuked accusations coming from US Secretary of State John Kerry and elsewhere that pointed to alleged “Moscow’s hand” in the ongoing pro-federalization rallies in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv.
Putin called on the Ukrainian military to pull back from civilians in southeastern Ukraine.
“We are hearing calls for people in the Southeast [of Ukraine] to lay down their arms. I tell our partners: That’s correct, it’s a great call. But then let’s call the army off of the civilians. Have they gone nuts? Tanks, armored vehicles, and guns are being brought in: against whom are these cannons for? Are they kidding?” Putin said.