'Force a last resort': Putin on post-Yanukovych Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday broke over a week of silence to make his first comments on Ukraine after the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych.

In a string of declarations that will shape the crisis for months to come, he denied Russia had sent troops into Crimea, said force would only be used as a last resort, admitted Yanukovych had no political future and slammed the takeover of power in Kiev as an armed coup.

Here are the main points from Putin's comments:

PUTIN ON THE OVERTHROW OF YANUKOVYCH

"There can only be one assessment of what happened in Kiev and Ukraine as a whole: this was an anti-constitutional take-over and armed seizure of power," he said.

ON YANUKOVYCH

"Yanukovych practically had already given up power. He had practically no chance of being re-elected and I told him this."

"The legitimate president, purely legally, is undoubtedly Yanukovych... I think he has no political future -- I told him that."

"That he now has no power is clear."

ON WHY RUSSIA GAVE YANUKOVYCH SANCTUARY

"Death is the easiest (way) to get rid of a legitimate president. That would have happened. I think they would have just killed him," Putin said.

ON UKRAINE'S POST-SOVIET HISTORY

"This revolutionary situation built up long ago from the first days of Ukraine's independence. Corruption reached levels that we did not even dream of in Russia."

ON POST-YANUKOVYCH UKRAINE

"We see a riot of neo-Nazis, nationalists, anti-Semites in some parts of Ukraine, including Kiev."

"Some kind of nationalist thug could pop up like a jack-in-a-box, a semi-fascist element."

ON THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE IN UKRAINE

"We reserve the right to use all available means. And we believe that this is fully legitimate. This is a last resort"

"We cannot stand aside if we see that they start to persecute or destroy. We very much hope that it does not come to this."

"We do not intend to and will not go to war with the Ukrainian people."

ON REPORTS RUSSIAN TROOPS ARE IN CRIMEA

"You can go into a shop and buy any kind of uniform. These were local self-defence forces."

"Thank God that this was done without a single shot and everything is in the hands of the Crimean people."

ON POSSIBLE US SANCTIONS

"Any threats towards Russia are counterproductive and harmful."

ON BOYCOTT OF G8 IN SOCHI

"If they don't want to come, they don't need to."

ON BOYCOTT OF SOCHI PARALYMPIC GAMES

"I think it would be the height of cynicism to threaten the realisation of the Paralympic Games."

"If someone tries to ruin them... that means that nothing is sacred for the people who make such attempts."

ON UKRAINIAN POLITICS

"Political life in Ukraine has turned into a farce."

ON WESTERN BIDS TO INFLUENCE UKRAINIAN POLITICS

"I sometimes have the idea that some kind of lab workers are sitting in America and doing experiments, like on rats, without understanding the consequences of what they are doing."

ON UKRAINE'S PLANNED MAY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

"Let us see how they go. If they go ahead in the same terror that we have seen in Kiev then we are not going to recognise them."

ON UKRAINE'S THIRD RICHEST MAN AND DNIPROPETROVSK GOVERNOR IGOR KOLOMOISKY

"This is a unique rascal. He even duped our oligarch (Roman) Abramovich two or three years ago... And they make a governor out of such a scoundrel."

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