Russian President Vladimir Putin said in comments released Monday that he took the decision to annex Crimea at a nightlong Kremlin meeting after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February 2014.
“When we parted, I told everybody: We have to start working on bringing Crimea back into Russia,” Putin said in the trailer to a documentary film about the subject, produced by Russian state television.
It was the first time that Putin had revealed details about the Kremlin’s decision-making on Crimea. He said that the meeting of security officials took place in the night from February 22 to February 23.
Crimea’s pro-Ukrainian government was replaced by a pro-Russian one four days later, after troops without insignia – who were later confirmed to be Russian – seized the Black Sea peninsula’s government buildings.
Moscow declared the region part of Russia two days after a March 16 referendum, in which it said that 98 per cent voted for unification. The annexation was not recognised by Ukraine and its Western allies.
Putin said later that Crimea would remain part of Russia forever.
In the trailer, Putin also says that during that meeting he arranged an operation to save Yanukovych’s life by bringing him to Russia “by land, sea and air.”
The former president fled from Ukraine’s capital Kiev to the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk on February 22. He later said that he managed to get to Russia via Crimea.
It was unclear Monday, when the full documentary would be shown. The trailer only said “soon.” SAPA