Putin justifies potential military move in Ukraine
Updated: 2014-03-02 19:37
A woman waves a Russian flag as armed servicemen wait near Russian military vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin has shared his assessment of critical situation in Ukraine with several world leaders, justifying Russia's potential military move in that country, the Kremlin press service said Sunday.
In a telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama, Putin said Russia retained the right to protect its interests and Russian speakers living in Ukraine if violence spread on eastern Ukrainian regions and the Crimea, an autonomous region that is the epicenter of the ongoing crisis in that country.
Putin noted "real threats to life and health of Russian citizens and numerous compatriots living in that country".
He attributed Russia's possible military move to "provocative and criminal actions by ultra-nationalistic elements that are actually encouraged by current authorities in Kiev", the Interfax news agency said.
When talking with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Putin said Russia could not stay aside if violent actions were taken against Russian speakers in eastern Ukrainian regions and Crimea.
Russia would take necessary measures according to international law, he added.
Both sides said further escalation of the crisis in Ukraine should be averted.
Putin also discussed ways of possible settlement of the situation and agreed to continue talks in another telephone conversation with his French counterpart Francois Hollande.
Russia's parliament authorized Putin to use military forces to protect Russian interests in Ukraine earlier Saturday.