Posted: Mar 4, 2014 3:57 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2014 3:59 AM
MOSCOW (AP) Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is ready to use all means to protect Russians in Ukraine, but hopes he will not have to use force in eastern Ukraine.
Putin said Tuesday that while the Ukrainian parliament is legitimate, the acting president is not. He said that fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych is the only legitimate leader of Ukraine.
Putin rejected Western criticism of Russian action in Ukraine, saying that there have been doubts about the legitimacy of Western action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
It was the first time Putin has spoken publicly since Yanukovych fled Kiev.