Russia would have activated its nuclear arsenal if necessary a year ago when its troops secured the Crimean peninsula and carried out a referendum on the strategic peninsula’s secession from Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a documentary that aired Sunday.
Crimean painters touch up a mural depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin in a navy uniform ahead of celebrations planned this week, a year after the March 18, 2014, annexation of Crimea. (Yuri Lashov / AFP/Getty Images)
In the report timed to Monday’s anniversary of the referendum, “Crimea: Path to the Motherland,” Putin justifies Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea territory as necessary to protect Russians and military bases from what he described as a nationalist junta that had taken power in Kiev.
Putin accused the United States of masterminding the three-month uprising in the Ukrainian capital that ended with the ouster of Kremlin-allied President Viktor Yanukovich, who has since taken refuge in Russia.
While the documentary was clearly prerecorded, it served to project a vibrant and defiant image of the Russian president, who hasn’t been seen in public for more than a week, spurring rumors that he is sick or has been deposed in a palace coup.
Related Putin hails Crimea annexation as ‘most important milestone’
Putin hails Crimea annexation as ‘most important milestone’
The Kremlin website on Sunday also carried a message of condolence from Putin on the death of Russian writer Valentin Rasputin.