Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed a secret meeting in which he gave the order to annex the Crimea, which took place prior to the referendum that Moscow cited as justification for the highly controversial actions.
Putin’s revelation comes as part of an upcoming documentary, Homeward Bound, according to the Telegraph. A trailer for the film was aired on Russian state-run television Sunday night, in which Putin openly discussed Moscow’s controversial incorporation of the Crimea, which took place a year ago. Putin detailed a late night meeting with security service officials, in which Russian plans to safeguard deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych were discussed. At the time, Yanukovych had fled a pro-Western revolt taking place in his nation’s capital.
“We ended at about seven in the morning,” Putin noted. “When we were parting, I said to my colleagues: we must start working on returning Crimea to Russia.”
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) March 9, 2015
The meeting between Putin and the security officials reportedly took place on February 23, 2014, according to ABC News, nearly a month before Crimea’s official annexation by Russia, a move that triggered international outrage and condemnation. The action spurred both the United States and the EU to impose harsh economic sanctions on Russia, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
Just four days after the meeting, unidentified soldiers occupied Crimea’s local parliament while Russian authorities initially denied involvement in the region. In the trailer, Putin also revealed that Russia’s military was willing to enter the Ukranian city of Donetsk to save Yanukovych, a figure loyal to Moscow.
“He would have been killed,” Putin alleged. “We got ready to get him right out of Donetsk by land, by sea or by air. Heavy machine guns were mounted there to avoid talking too much.”
— National Post (@nationalpost) March 9, 2015
Though Russian authorities initially denied that troops had been sent into the Crimea, Putin later announced on state-run television that Moscow had indeed dispatched forces to the region. Soldiers who took part in the operation have since been issued medals which read “For Returning Crimea,” displaying an operational starting date prior to Yanukovych’s ouster from power.
It has also been alleged by Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper critical of Putin, that plans to annex the Crimea and eastern Ukraine were drafted in early February of last year. As the Daily Mail reports, the Kremlin has scoffed at the allegations, calling the report “nonsense.”
Rossiya-1, the network which aired the trailer that featured Vladimir Putin’s comments, did not say when the full documentary on Crimea’s annexation would air.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/ Getty Images]