The Russian president Vladimir Putin held a Press Conference in order to discuss the developments in Ukraine.
Once he collected questions from journalists, he started talking about a military seizure of power in Ukraine. When he was asked about Viktor Yanukovych, Putin mentioned that he has released virtually all of his power and that he never gave instructions for use force or to open fire against authorities or protesters.
Talking about the current situation, he made it clear that Yanukovych is still the legitimate president of Ukraine and stressed that he does not recognize the new prime minister, therefore the troops in Ukraine are legal. He also said that Russia reserves the right to intervene, if lawlessness prevails in eastern Ukraine.
He added however that the Ukrainian citizens should have the right to decide about their future. He also said that Yanukovych requested the support of Russia in order to protect the lives and property of Ukrainians and clarified that this time there is no need to use the Russian army in Crimea, but he mentioned that this possibility exists.
"Russia has the right to use all means at its disposal to protect the Russians in Crimea," he said and that he doesn't worry about a possibility of a war because "we will not go to war". "Who will shoot Russian soldiers? The Russian people?" was his reply to a question about the possibility of military conflict in the Crimea.
He added that Yanukovych "has no political future and that he has told him that", while Russia helped him "for humanitarian reasons" as if he remained in Ukraine he would be killed. Regarding the reactions of the Western powers, the Russian president, revealed he has had recent talks, without naming the leaders.
"Often we blame that we are irregular in what we do and I ask them if they always act legally" said Putin. "We received a request from a legitimate president, who is perfectly in harmony with international law even to intervene militarily," he continued answering a question from a journalist.
About the meeting of G8, he said that Moscow will continue to prepare the meeting, "We expect our partners. If they don't want to come, it's their problem". "We won't be indifferent if the people of Crimea are tortured". "The are mentions about provocateurs from a party" he added speaking about the bloody events in Kiev.
Referring to the turmoil in the financial markets, he called it "a temporary tactic employed by investors". As he reiterated, referring to an earlier announcement by Kremlin, from last April Russia stopped selling gas with discount to Ukraine.
Regarding the new government announced in Ukraine, the Russian president said he has instructed ministers to communicate with the new Ukrainian ministers and to try to maintain economic ties and diplomatic relations with Kiev. He said, however, that if the elections are made "in the current climate of terrorism" then Russia will not recognize the results. He also said that Russia was asked not to release the next installments of $ 15 billion to Kiev.
Russian warships have blocked the Strait of Kerch
Russian warships have blocked the Kerch Strait, that separates Crimea from Russia, as it was announced today by the Ukrainian border guard service. The Ukrainian border guards said that Russian troops control the Ukrainian side of the Straits and that they have seen Russian tanks on the Russian side. "Two Russian ships have closed the Strait of Kerch, from north and south" Pavel Sisourin, the deputy commander of the border guards, told reporters. However the Russian armed forces have not confirmed this information.