Fort Russ - 11th January, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the Crimean reunification with Russia during an interview with journalists from the German 'Bild' newspaper in Sochi, Tuesday.
Vladimir Putin, Russian President (Russian): "What do you mean when you say 'Crimea'?
Journalist (German): Changed borders.
Vladimir Putin, Russian President (Russian): "But I mean under this word - people, 2.5 million. Honestly speaking, these people were afraid of the coup, they were worried about the military coup d'etat in Ukraine. And after the coup in Kiev - and it was nothing but a military coup d'etat - no matter who tried to colour the truth. Those far-nationalist forces, which tried to take power, and we can say that some of them even came to power, began to threaten people openly.
To threaten Russians and Russian-speaking people living in Ukraine in general and in Crimea in particular because this region is more populated with Russians and Russian-speaking citizens than any other part of Ukraine. What have we done? We didn't carry out war, we didn't occupy anyone, there was no shooting, no one was killed during the events in Crimea. Not a single person.
We used the Armed Forces only to contain more than 20,000 Ukrainian service members stationed there from interfering with the free expression of will of the Crimean citizens. People came to the referendum and casted their votes, they wanted to be part of Russia. You asked me if I am a friend or not. The relations between states differ from those between individuals. I am not a friend, bride or groom, I am the President of the Russian Federation. 146 million people. These people have their own interests and I must protect those interests. We are ready to do it in a non-confrontational manner to look for compromises, but of course, based on international law, which must be understood uniformly by all."