Ukrainian people must respect the Crimea’s choice, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual Q&A session on Thursday. “If we treat each other with respect, we will have to recognize each other’s right of choice. People who live in Ukraine, have to respect the choice of those who live in Crimea,” Putin said during a live Q&A session Following the regime change in Ukraine in February, Crimea refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new authorities and held a referendum that resulted in its reunification with Russia.
The West consistently blamed Russia for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called the referendum illegitimate.
The Russian Foreign Ministry insists the vote fully complied with international law and the UN Charter and genuinely reflected the free will of Crimean citizens. On Wednesday, the regime in Kiev announced it was going to raise the issue of Crimea’s return at a planned four-party meeting in Geneva on today, which is to tackle the deteriorating situation in Ukraine following the February coup.
The actions of Russian forces in Crimea were not premeditated, but extremely professional, said Russian President Vladimir Putin during his Q&A session. “Nothing was prepared beforehand; everything was done on the fly, so to speak, to accommodate the situation. But it was executed flawlessly and professionally,” Putin said. He stressed that Russia’s intention was not to conduct a military operation in Crimea, but to ensure that the people of the peninsula could safely express their will during the referendum.