Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Washington of organizing what he describes as an armed coup in Ukraine, saying Moscow saw through the US ploy of hiding behind Europe in the bid to overthrow the former Ukrainian government.
“The trick of the situation was that outwardly the [Ukrainian] opposition was supported mostly by the Europeans. But we knew for sure that the real masterminds were our American friends,” Putin said in an interview for a documentary dubbed “Crimea – The Way Home,” that was aired Sunday by Rossiya 1 news channel.
“They helped training the nationalists, their armed groups, in Western Ukraine, in Poland and to some extent in Lithuania,” he said, adding that “they facilitated the armed coup.”
Putin also explained that, during the Western-backed coup in Ukraine, which eventually led to the removal of then-President Viktor Yanukovich, “the law was thrown away,” alleging that “the beneficiaries of the coup” attempted to assassinate Yanukovich but that Putin personally got involved to ensure his flight out of the country.
“I invited the heads of our special services, the Defense Ministry, and ordered them to protect the life of the Ukrainian president. Otherwise he would have been killed,” Putin said, adding that, at one point, Russian signal intelligence, which was tracking Yanukovich’s motorcade route, realized that he was about to be ambushed.
According to the documentary, the Russian president personally ordered the preparation for Crimea’s special operation the morning after Yanukovich escaped the country, saying that “we cannot let the [Crimean] people be pushed under the steamroller of the nationalists.”
“I [gave them] their tasks, told them what to do and how we must do it, and stressed that we would only do it if we were absolutely sure that this is what the people living in Crimea want us to do,” Putin said.
He further asserted that an emergency public opinion poll conducted in Crimea indicated that at least 75 percent of the people desired to join Russia.
“Our goal was not to take Crimea by annexing it. Our final goal was to allow the people express their wishes on how they want to live,” he added.
The Russian president also revealed that part of the operation in Crimea was to deploy K-300P Bastion coastal defense missiles to display Kremlin’s determination to protect the peninsula from a potential military attack.
“We deployed them in a way that made them clearly visible from space,” Putin said.
He vowed in the documentary that the Russian armed forces were prepared for any developments and would have armed nuclear weapons if necessary.
The Crimean people voted in a referendum to join Russia after rejecting the Western-backed government that took over power in Kiev in February 2014. The move triggered an international controversy after the new government’s foreign sponsors accused Russia of annexing the peninsula through military force.
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