Speaking at a press conference today Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any invasion of Crimea by forces loyal to the pro-West Ukrainian government will be met with strategies once used in the Soviet Union by the likes of Lenin and Stalin in which civilians would be put ahead of the defending army.
The video, with Vladimir Putin speaking in Russian, has been translated by several organizations.
Listen to me. Listen to me carefully. I want you to correctly understand me.
If we reach that decision, only if we reach that decision, it will only be for the defense of Ukrainian citizens, let anyone from the military dare shoot at their own people which we will be behind, not in front but behind, let them try and shoot at women and children.
Let me see who in the Ukraine will give such an order. (Translation viaFrontpage Mag)
The statement is obviously controversial, and translations always seem to lean towards the propaganda of the organization reporting it, however in this case it seems it is fairly accurate. The news channel Russia Today, long a mouth-piece for the dissemination of pro-Moscow information, translated the statement as follows:
If we see this lawlessness starting in eastern regions, if the people ask us for help – in addition to a plea from a legitimate president, which we already have – then we reserve the right to use all the means we possess to protect those citizens. And we consider it quite legitimate
I want you to understand it unambiguously. If we do take a decision, it would only be to protect Ukrainian citizens. Let anybody in the military dare, and they’d be shooting their own people, who would stand up in front of us. Shoot at women and children. I’d like to see anyone try and order such a thing in Ukraine.
Putin is being faced with the possible threat of a Ukrainian military invasion, or at the very least, skirmishes along key border areas. Reports indicate that the Russian military continues to take control of strategic assets, with a Ukranian Air Force basestormed by over a hundred Russian troops just hours ago.
Further, in an effort to control the news the Russian parliament has moved to vote on a new measure that would limit free speech by charging journalists as terrorists if they “allow publication of false anti-Russian information, provide information and support to extremist anti-Russian separatist forces, including the reflection of events beyond the borders of Russia.”
While officials in the U.S., Europe and Russia claim they are working towards a solution to the problems in the Ukraine, tensions remain high, with any number of small events having the potential to set the powder keg ablaze leading to a broader conflict in the Ukraine and the possibility of a serious impact on global financial markets.
For Vladimir Putin’s part, he has now clearly indicated that if Russian lives are to be put at risk, the Ukrainians, namely their women and children, will not go unscathed.