Putin cau­tious on ‘right’ to send troops into Ukraine

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has said he has “a right” to send troops into Ukraine but hopes he will “not have to ex­er­cise that right”.

He was speak­ing live on Rus­sian TV af­ter a clash in Mar­i­upol, east­ern Ukraine, in which three pro-Rus­sian pro­test­ers were re­port­edly killed.

Mr Putin said he hoped the cri­sis would be re­solved through di­a­logue.

Talks have opened in Geneva be­tween Rus­sia, Ukraine, the EU and US - the first since un­rest erupted in Crimea.

In his an­nual live tele­vi­sion phone-in, Mr Putin warned the Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties of “the abyss they’re head­ing into” and urged di­a­logue.

He also ad­mit­ted for the first time that Rus­sian forces had been ac­tive in Crimea, which was an­nexed by Moscow last month. Pre­vi­ously he had in­sisted that the cam­ou­flaged, masked gun­men who took over Crimea were a lo­cal “self­de­fence” force.

The West says Rus­sia is aiding the proRus­sian ac­tivists now oc­cu­py­ing dozens of of­fi­cial build­ings in Ukraine’s east­ern Donetsk re­gion. Mr Putin dis­missed as “rubbish” al­le­ga­tions that Rus­sian spe­cial forces were op­er­at­ing there. BBC

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