On March 4th, Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear he reserves the “right” to use force in responding to the “unconstitutional coup” of “former [Ukrainian] President Viktor Yanukovych’s government.”
Putin said force can be used to “protect Russian-speaking residents [in Ukraine].”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Putin claimed the use of force aligns with international law because it would come at the request of Yanukovych–“the country’s only lawful leader.”
He said those who overthrew Yanukovych’s government are “illegitimate,” adding that he “understood” the people’s desire for change but that “illegal change” is a completely different matter.
Putin signaled no timetable for using force. Rather, he intimated that Russia might even work with the new Ukrainian president–to be elected in May–if the “terror on the streets of Kiev” stops.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.