MOSCOW, April 17 President Vladimir Putin said Russian forces had been active in Crimea in order to support local defence forces, the first time he has admitted deployment of Russian troops on the Black Sea peninsula.
"We had to take unavoidable steps so that events did not develop as they are currently developing in southeast Ukraine," Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation. "Of course our troops stood behind Crimea's self-defence forces."
(Reporting by Alexei Anischchuk; Additional repoting by Polina Devitt, Andrey Kuzmin; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Lidia Kelly)
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