Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday during the press-conference that his country has not deployed any troops in Crimea recently and has no plans to annex the peninsula. Ria NOVOSTI writes about this.
Ukrainian officials and media have claimed in recent days that clandestine Russian army troops without insignias were deployed in the southeastern Ukrainian region, which has a majority ethnic Russian population.
When asked about the identity of the troops, Putin told a press conference that they are “local militias.”
They are wearing Russian-style fatigues because such attire is available in army shops across the former Soviet Union, Putin said.
Putin said, however, that up to 22,000 Ukrainian army troops with heavy military equipment are now under the control of local militias. Ukrainian authorities earlier denied any mass desertions in Crimea-based army units.
Speaking about a possible annexation of Crimea, Putin said it is up to the local population to decide.
“I believe only residents of a territory can and should decide their own future, provided they have safety and freedom of vote,” Russian President underlined.