Russian president Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was hatched during a meeting on Feb 22 2014, after Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. The timeline suggested that the annexation was ordered weeks before the referendum on self-determination took place.
His confession will be featured in a documentary titled Crimea: The Road to Motherland, its trailer released on March 8 with no official premiere date announced.
In the trailer, Putin said he made his decision to annex Crimea after a discreet opinion poll was conducted and showed 80 percent of Crimeans in favor of uniting with Russia.
“I invited the leaders of our special services and the defense ministry to the Kremlin and set them the task of saving the life of the president of Ukraine, who would simply have been liquidated,” Putin spoke in the trailer.
“We finished about seven in the morning. When we were parting, I told all my colleagues, ‘We are forced to begin the work to bring Crimea back into Russia,'” Putin said.
On March 18, unidentified gunmen took over the peninsula.
The day also happened to be the day when the official annexation of Crimea took place, with Putin signing a bill absorbing Crimea into the Russian Federation, BBC reported. On April 7, pro-Russian protesters took over government buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. In May, pro-Russian separatists declared independence from Ukraine.
The Ukraine Crisis
Since April 2014, the estimated number of people killed in the wake of the Ukraine crisis has reached 6,000, according to the UN Human Rights Office. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described the situation as a “merciless devastation of civilian lives and infrastructure,” with women, children and the elderly gravelly affected.
“More than six thousand lives have now been lost in less than a year due to the fighting in eastern Ukraine. It is imperative that all sides comply with the provisions of the Minsk Agreements and halt the indiscriminate shelling and other hostilities that have created a dreadful situation for civilians – in stark disregard of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” the Commissioner said.
OCHA Operations Director John Ging had just recently said that five million people across the country are in badly need of humanitarian assistance.
“One year ago Ukraine had no displaced people. Now, as a result of the conflict, there are almost 1.1 million people registered as internally displaced, more than 100,000 of them in the last month. And more than 670,000 people have fled to neighboring countries,” Ging said.
“Additional funding to address the immediate humanitarian needs of those affected by this conflict is urgently needed. Ukraine’s Humanitarian Response Plan, launched on 24 February, calls for $316 million to reach 3.2 million people in the most dire humanitarian need. To date, only 13 per cent of this appeal – $42.2 million – has so far been either received or pledged,” Ging highlighted.