Russia could not let NATO troops come to Sevastopol. In this case, the balance of forces in the Black Sea would have been radically changed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting of ambassadors and permanent representatives of the Russian Federation, explaining the reasons for Russia's move to reunite with the Crimea.
"We had no right to abandon the residents of the Crimea and Sevastopol. We could not let it happen that our access to the Black Sea would be considerably limited...that NATO troops would come to the Crimean land. The balance of forces in the Black Sea area would have been considerably changed," said Putin.
According to the Russian president, "in Ukraine, our compatriots found themselves in danger - Russian people and people of other nationalities, their language, history, culture and legal rights." The events that had been provoked in Ukraine became a manifestation of "containment policy" against Russia, the leader of the Russian Federation said.
The President expressed a hope that the West would stop to impose its principles on other countries, "turning the planet into global barracks." "I hope that pragmatism will prevail after all ... I hope that the West will begin building relations based on equality, mutual respect, mutual interests," said Putin. In his opinion, "it is time to recognize each other's right to be different" and "seek common grounds."
Putin also touched upon the question of the truce in the east of Ukraine, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko decided not to extend. According to the head of the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian leader is entirely responsible for the resumption of hostilities in the country.
"You have heard of most recent attempts to restore and preserve peace in Ukraine. You know about multiple negotiations and telephone conferences on the issue. Unfortunately, President Poroshenko decided to resume combat actions, and we - I mean myself and my colleagues from Europe - could not convince him that the road to reliable, durable and lasting peace can not lie through war." "Until recently, Mr. Poroshenko had no relation to the orders to start military action, but now he took over full responsibility for that - not only military, but also political responsibility, which is a lot more important," Putin stated.
"Also, we did not manage to make public the statement agreed between foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine about the need for the preservation of peace and the search for mutually acceptable solutions," Putin continued.
"After the announcement of the truce, substantive negotiations to regulate the crisis have not begun, - Putin said. - In fact, there was only an ultimatum on disarmament, which was not bad at all, but not enough to resolve the situation that is unacceptable to all people living in the country, including in the south-east of the country."
"The Constitution of Ukraine was proclaimed, - said the head of state. - But even within the Ukrainian society there is a debate going on whether it is good or bad, but nobody discussed it with the east, that's for sure."
Putin also touched upon the death of First Channel cameraman Anatoly Klyan, who was shot during a trip to a military unit of the Ukrainian army. According to the Russian President, there is an intentional campaign being conducted in Ukraine to eliminate representatives of the press, ITAR-TASS reports.
"Killing journalists is absolutely unacceptable, and yesterday I once again reminded the president of Ukraine that in my opinion, there was intentional eradication of the press being conducted, - said Putin. - This applies to both Russian and foreign journalists. Who is afraid of objective information?" the president said to members of the meeting. "Apparently, only those who commit crimes," Putin answered his own question. "We very much hope that the promises of the Kiev authorities about thorough investigation of the killings will be kept," said the head of state.
It is worth noting that several Russian politicians have said before that they did not consider the killings of Russian journalists in Ukraine a random event. "In my view, this is being done on purpose by those who want to stir up the conflict," the head of United Russia faction in the State Duma, Vladimir Vasiliev said.
In addition, a Forbes correspondent, who took part in the trip to the military unit, where Russian journalists were attacked and killed, said that it looked like a provocation. Those who organized the trip were probably aware of how it would end for the journalists, he added.
An intense movement of NATO aircraft was reported at Poland's Rzeszow airfield near the Ukrainian border