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Putin admits to ordering Crimea's annexation before referendum

Putin admits to ordering Crimeas annexation before referendum

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that he ordered the annexation of Crimea hours after the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, and a week before the regional authorities of the peninsula rebelled against the government in Kiev calling for an independence referendum, Efe news agency reported.

State-owned Russia TV released late Sunday the trailer of a documentary film scheduled to be broadcast in the coming days in which Putin will disclose the details of Crimea's annexation and the special operation to take out the former Ukrainian president from his hometown of Donetsk, where he took refuge upon fleeing Kiev in the early hours of February 22.

"Heavy machine guns were installed there to act without further parley. We got ready to pick him up directly from Donetsk: by land, by sea and by air. It was the night of (February) 22 to (February) 23, we finished at about seven o'clock in the morning. And when parting, I told all my colleagues: 'We'll have to start working on bringing Crimea back to Russia'," Putin says in the trailer.

Although Putin had already revealed the participation of Russian troops in Crimea's incorporation, he had always claimed that the intervention was made to ensure the reunification referendum process, organised by pro-Russian authorities in the peninsula on March 1.

"We did use our armed forces, but only to give the people living here the opportunity to express their views regarding their future," Putin said in the Crimean city of Yalta last August.

Moreover, the Russian president consistently argued that Crimea has always been Russian territory but was unfairly transferred to Ukraine in 1954, when both were part of the Soviet Union.

On March 16, 2014, Crimea held an independence referendum, unrecognised by the authorities in Kiev and the international community, in which approximately 97 percent of those who voted were in favour of Crimea acceding to Russia.

Two days later, Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory in a ceremony at the Kremlin, where Putin and the leaders of the region signed a bilateral treaty, declaring the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol as members of the Russian Federation.

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