Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the US Department of State, said Russian troops that were stationed in Crimea at Russian military bases, legally with the permission of the Ukrainian government, occupied the peninsula prior to the referendum.
Prior to the Crimean referendum, Russia, absolutely legally with the permission of the Kiev government, had stationed its troops at Russian military bases in Crimea. That meant, regardless of the referendum, Russian troops at Russian military bases could not possibly occupy the Ukrainian territory, as they were stationed at their own bases.
Matthew Lee, a reporter from AP, asked Psaki to clarify how could Russian troops “occupy” Crimea by simply sitting at their bases without forcibly seizing or taking over anything.
“Oh, you’re talking about in eastern Ukraine now, not Crimea,” Lee tried to correct Psaki. After that the spokesperson for the US Department of State got totally lost and replied with incoherent series of words.
“Yeah. No, I, but, I’m not also talking about back then.” – Psaki said, adding that she had no further comments on Crimea.