Putin: Reunification of Crimea With Russia Was Not on Agenda Before Coup in Ukraine
In 2013, protests broke out in Ukraine due to the authorities' decision to halt a policy aimed at integration with the European Union, leading to a coup and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych.
The reunification of Crimea with Russia was never on the agenda before the coup in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his year-end press conference on Thursday.
He noted that it was impossible for Russia to deny Crimeans protection after the Ukrainian coup.
"The aggravation began in 2014. What happened then? A coup. A bloody one. People were killed and burned", Putin said. "President Yanukovych agreed with everything, received guarantees from other countries of a peaceful resolution of the situation. How could we refuse Sevastopol and Crimea to take them under our protection?"
The president recalled history, saying in terms of Ukraine "they created a country that included historical Russian territories".
Additionally, the Russian president shared his "impression" that a third military operation is being prepared in Ukraine, and "they are warning Russia not to interfere".
"We must react", Putin said.
Russia needs to think about its national security and constantly monitor the events in Ukraine, the president noted.
According to Putin, the main issue is that Kiev is refusing to comply with the Minsk agreements, which, he said, are the only way to resolve the situation in Donbass.
Later, the Russian president underlined that the future of this region will be determined by the people of Donbass themselves.
The ongoing conflict in southeastern Ukraine, where the Ukrainian military launched a special operation against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics in 2014, has killed thousands of people. The Normandy Four format, which includes Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine, was established in June 2014 to mediate the conflict after the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, known together as Donbass, proclaimed independence following what they considered to be a coup in Kiev in February of that year. Despite several ceasefire agreements reached under the Normandy format, the Donbass conflict continues.
In 2014, as the conflict in Donbass was raging, Crimea and Sevastopol reunited with Russia following a referendum in which more than 95% of the peninsula's voters were in favour of reunification.
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