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Putin also claimed that, contrary to media reports, ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovych had not given orders to shoot demonstrators.
However, he also noted that corruption and inequality had thrived under subsequent leaderships in the former Soviet country that shares a long border with Russia.
“Crooks replaced crooks for decades,” alleged Putin while stating that Ukrainians need to decide their own fate.
The Russian President also observed that while the ousted Yanukovych is still the legitimate leader but without power, the interim President is not.
Slamming all talk of war, Putin on Tuesday said “ there is no need to send military forces to Crimea”, although Russia retains the rights to do so.
Putin had earlier on Tuesday ordered an end Tuesday to combat readiness drills in the west of the country that have been linked to a military incursion into neighboring Ukraine.
The orders apparently do not affect the heavily armed Russian troops that have been deployed in recent days across the southern Ukrainian Crimean peninsula and seized key strategic facilities.
Putin attended drills in Russia’s northwest Leningrad Region on Monday and top generals informed him that they had gone well, according to a Kremlin statement.
The practice maneuvers, which included live fire exercises and involved more than 150,000 servicemen, up to 90 planes, over 120 helicopters, more than 880 military vehicles and 80 warships, were announced by the Kremlin on Wednesday as tensions over the situation in Ukraine escalated.
The Russian Parliament had earlier approved deployment of forces in Ukraine over the weekend, prompting world leaders to condemn Moscow’s armed incursion as an invasion and call for economic sanctions.
TBP and Agencies