Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed, during a meeting with his Security Council on Thursday, that Russia was not responsible for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
At the high-level government meeting, Putin presented two agenda items, listing the situation in Ukraine as secondary to a discussion on Russian relations with Central America and the Caribbean.
"The second matter, which we cannot disregard, concerns the events that are developing in Ukraine, in Crimea, and everything that has to do with this difficult problem, which has arisen -- and I want to stress this -- through no fault of ours. However, this crisis has occurred and we're involved in it whether we like it or not. I note that this is primarily a domestic Ukrainian crisis. Unfortunately, all of us realise that we have been drawn into this situation."
Putin's claims of Russia being an innocent bystander drawn into a domestic dispute are at odds with a number of recent developments: the Russian military's incursion into Ukraine's Crimea region; Russia's refusal to recognize Ukraine's new government post-Viktor Yanukovych's toppled presidency; and Russia's support for a Crimean referendum -- deemed "illegal" by Kiev -- to determine whether Crimea remains a part of Ukraine or secedes to join Russia.