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Putin: Russia Reserves Right for Force in Ukraine

Says Toppling of Ukrainian President Was ‘Unconstitutional Coup’


Lukas I. Alpert
Updated March 4, 2014 11:42 a.m. ET

extra extra newspaperRussia’s defense minister on Tuesday ordered soldiers involved in combat-preparedness drills across Russia to return to their bases, but the situation on the ground in Crimea remained tense. WSJ’s Greg White joins the News Hub with details. Photo: AP

MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he didn’t see any immediate need to send troops further into Ukraine, but that Russia reserves the right to use force to protect its interests there.

In his first detailed comments since Russian soldiers entered the restive Ukrainian region of Crimea, Mr. Putin offered a full-throated defense of the use of force there, insisting that Russia was simply defending its military installations on the peninsula amid instability following the collapse of Ukraine’s government.

But sending troops further into the country didn’t seem necessary now, he said. “For the moment there is no need for that, but the possibility still exists,” he said. “On the whole, it seems to me that it’s stabilizing.”

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