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)