“Crimea—the Way Home” is the name of a documentary aired by Rossiya 1 new channel on Sunday, featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia Today provides a running account of the film, with substantial quotes, which we include below:
“The trick of the situation was that outwardly the [ukrainian] opposition was supported mostly by the Europeans. But we knew for sure that the real masterminds were our American friends,” Putin says in the film.
“They helped train the nationalists, their armed groups, in Western Ukraine, in Poland, and to some extent in Lithuania,” he added. “They facilitated the armed coup.”
“The law was thrown away and crashed. And the consequences were grave indeed. Part of the country agreed to it, while another part wouldn’t accept it. The country was shattered.”
Putin charged that there was a plan to assassinate elected president Yanukovych, whom Russia was determined to defend.
“I invited the heads of our special services, the Defense Ministry, and ordered them to protect the life of the Ukrainian president. Otherwise he would have been killed.”
Yanukovych first fled to Crimea, but asked to be taken to Russia because “there was no one he could negotiate with in Kiev.”
At that point, Putin says, he personally ordered preparation for a special operation in Crimea, arguing that “we cannot let the [crimean] people be pushed under the steamroller of the nationalists.”
“I [gave them] their tasks, told them what to do and how we must do it, and stressed that we would only do it if we were absolutely sure that this is what the people living in Crimea want us to do.” [An emergency poll was then taken indicating that at least 75% of the people wanted to join Russia.]
“Our goal was not to take Crimea by annexing it. Our final goal was to allow the people to express their wishes on how they want to live.”
“I decided for myself: what the people want will happen. If they want greater autonomy with some extra rights within Ukraine, so be it. If they decided otherwise, we cannot fail them. You know the results of the referendum. We did what we had to do.”
The operation included deploying K-300P Bastion coastal defense missiles to show Russia would protect the peninsula from attack.
“We deployed them in a way that made them visible clearly from space,” Putin said. He then added, according to Russia Today, that “the Russian military were prepared for any developments and would have armed nuclear weapons if necessary.”
Putin said he wasn’t sure if the West would use military force against Russia. He deployed special forces, but not more than the 20,000 authorized for the peninsula. This ensured that the referendum could be freely held. The subsequent result is well known.