Ukraine crisis: Putin asserts Russia's 'right' to invade country during live-phone - Europe - World - The Independent

Ukraine crisis: Putin asserts Russia's 'right' to invade country during live-phone

Russian leader said decision to annex Crimea was influenced by Nato military expansion into the east

Vladimir Putin has asserted Russia’s “right” to invade Ukraine during a live phone-in, after accusing it of plunging Kiev into an “abyss” following a night of bloodshed in the east.

“I remind you that the Federation Council has given the president the right to use armed forces in Ukraine,” he said, referring to the upper house of Parliament during the annual televised question and answer session The Direct Line with Putin.

“I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right and that by political and diplomatic means we will be able to solve all of the sharp problems.”

Mr Putin said Russia has not ruled out sending troops into eastern Ukraine - but said he remained hopeful diplomacy would instead resolve the crisis.

The Russian leader argued the country had been forced to respond to Nato enlargement and that its annexation of Crimea was partly influenced by the Western military alliance's expansion into eastern Europe.

He said: "Our decision on Crimea was partly due to ... considerations that if we do nothing, then at some point, guided by the same principles, NATO will drag Ukraine in and they will say: 'It doesn't have anything to do with you.'"

"I hope that they are able to realise what a pit, what an abyss the current authorities are in and dragging the country into," Mr Putin continued while dismissing accusations that Russian agents were acting in east Ukraine as "rubbish".

Ukraine's Berkut riot police, a force disbanded by authorities in Kiev after being blamed for the deaths of protesters, had served honourably in the line of duty, he told the phone-in.

Overnight, three pro-Russian separatists have been killed and thirteen more injured in the bloodiest attack in eastern Ukraine since the crisis began.

The bloodshed came after gunfire was exchanged between Ukraine forces and pro-Russian militants during an attack on a National Guard base in the Black Sea port of Mariupol.

This morning, Ukraine's state security service said it is detaining 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds.

On Wednesday, pro- Russian troops seized six military vehicles and disarmed Ukrainian troops in a somewhat humiliating defeat for the interim government’s “anti-terrorist programme”.

Some troops attempting to reclaim captured sites in over a dozen towns and cities were sent home on buses in Kramatorsk, while pro-Moscow demonstrators took over yet another site, the mayor's office at Donetsk, after holding the administrative building in the city for weeks.

But overnight, 300 pro-Russian separatists threw Molotov cocktails and opened fire on a military unit in Mariupol, the Interior Minister said this morning. 

Arsen Avakov said in a post on Facebook that an armed group of about 300 attacked the base in Mariupol on the Sea of Azov with guns and petrol bombs. National Guard members first fired warning shots but then opened fire as the attack continued.

Sixty-three people have been arrested and most of the attackers disarmed, Mr Avakov said.

"According to preliminary data, three attackers were killed, 13 wounded and 63 detained," his statement read.

The Ukrainian government said that "given the aggressive nature of the attack on the base”, it is continuing to send in helicopters despite the military operation’s lack of success thus far.

The latest unrest comes ahead of crunch talks in Geneva today between Ukraine, the US the European Union and Russia, who are meeting all together for the first time since former president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February.

The US has threatened further sanctions in the wake of escalating tensions in the country, with President Barack Obama sending a direct warning to the Mr Putin that his actions all face consequences.

"Each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, there are going to be consequences," Mr Obama said Wednesday in an interview with CBS News.

"Mr. Putin's decisions aren't just bad for Ukraine. Over the long term, they're going to be bad for Russia."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week