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VLADIVOSTOK, March 15. /TASS/. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says the decision on changing the status of Crimea was not immediate.
"We have never considered Crimea’s rejection from Ukraine until the events [in Maidan], the coup," he said in a film called Way to Motherland, which Rossiya 1 television channel broadcasted on Sunday. "The first thing I ordered to do is to organise a closed poll."
"The results demonstrated there [in Crimea] 75% wanted to join Russia," he said. "It was evident for me if we approach it, the numbers of those supporting this historic event would be even higher."
The final objective was not seizure of Crimea or whatever annexation. The final objective was to give an opportunity to the people to express their will regarding how they would want to live. I am telling you quite openly and honestly. My thoughts were: if this is what people want, this is the way it will be. This means they will be with some bigger autonomy, with some rights, though a part of the Ukrainian state. Let it be so. But if they want it otherwise, we cannot leave them. We know results of the poll. Thus, we acted the way should have Vladimir Putin Russian President
The outbreak of nationalism spurred Russians to assist people living in Crimea, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said.
"We were done by about 7. And, I must say, I told all my counterparts (they were four): The situation in Ukraine is such that we have to begin working on returning of Crimea into Russia, as we cannot abandon that territory and people living there into the hands of the nationalists," Putin said.
Russian President has admitted that he was personally engaged in solving Crimea’s most pressing issues. "Our advantage was that I was personally engaged in this, - Putin said. - They can feel, understand and know that they fulfill an order and do not make artibrrary steps. But when the government agencies are in the state of total or partial outage, then the orders are neither given at all nor do they reach the designated receivers, nor their legitimacy can be doubtless".
The West was doing its utmost to prevent Crimea’s reunification with Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. "The West spared no effort to prevent Crimea’s reunification with Russia. By any means, in any format and under any scheme," he noted. "(The West) was seeking to once again push Russia away from its interests. But this is difficult, and to put it frankly, impossible to do."
Putin said that in general the entire work had been then done successfully. "With an exception of a minor episode - the first units that were sent there /to Crimea/ tarried a little, did not quite understand and slewed transport. When I learnt about that I asked the minister: ‘Who told you to do it. The answer was swift: ‘They are already back.’"
"There was not a single, I would like to stress, not a single incident. It was not an easy mission, bearing in mind its scale, the use of different forces and means, and at the first stage we involved special police force, main intelligence department, airborne troops, mariners, and later other units. The defence ministry worked in the most professional manner," he noted. "The same is applicable to the foreign ministry and the legal service. Everything was well-coordinated, neatly and accurately. I even though it couldn’t be us."
"But we did what we did. We know the results of the referendum and we did what we must do," the president stressed.
In March 2014 at least 96.77% of the Crimean peninsula residents voted in favour of reunification of Russia and Crimea, including the Black Sea navall port of Sevastopol.