He also maintains that Russian military deployment is not needed now but the “possibility” remains:
The military exercises were not related to what is happening in Ukraine. We did not announce them before because they were surprise exercises...They were planned for months.
He says Yanukovych urged Russia to use military action to defend the health of Ukrainians but says military force would only be used in “extreme” cases.
Putin once more refers to “radical extremists” in Kiev.
"President Putin says that what happened in Ukraine was “an unconstitutional overthrow and armed seizure of power” that went unchallenged.
Why was this done? President Yanukovych, before Poland Germany and France, and before my representative, ombudsmen Lukin, signed an agreement with the opposition, by which, I want to note, Yanukovych basically gave up his power, he aggreed to all demands of opposition, early elections, to return to the constitution of 2004, … he didn’t give one illegal command to shoot unfortunate protestors.
They immediately seized his residence rather than giving him a chance to fulfil the agreement. .. He didn’t have any chance of being reelected. …
Why did they need to take unconstitutional steps and bring the country into the chaos that now reigns there? … It was a stupid act.
The Russian president says there are “radical extremists masked and armed on the streets of Kiev”.
Putin calls the Ukrainian government “crooks”:
I sympathise with the people on Maidan even though I don’t recognise the change in regime … People are not demanding renovations of the facade of power, they want cardinal changes, because they are used to crooks taking over from other crooks...
Of course people wanted change. But it cannot impose illegal change ...you need to use only constitutional means.
Ultimately BBC News reports Putin said "there is no need yet to send Russian troops into Ukraine. But Russia reserves the right to use "all means" to protect citizens in eastern Ukraine, Mr Putin said. He denied Russian troops had besieged Ukrainians based in Crimea - they were pro-Russian "self-defence" forces. Mr Putin called the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych in the capital Kiev an "anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power"."
Earlier Ukrainian events continued to unfold. At the Belbek airbase, in the Ukraine, Tuesday morning pro-Russian troops fired warning shots as Ukrainians marched on the airbase. Women came out in support of the revolution and on twitter Zouhair @ZouM__ Follow "@ChristopherJM: Wives of Ukrainian soldiers at Belbek Airfield tweeted: "We are here to help with morale" pic.twitter.com/jeFd458b62" #Ukraine #Crimea.
There are reports that Russian troops have pulled back but there are still pro Russia Ukrainians in the Crimea.
The Guardian reports "Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he welcomed today’s reports of a pullback of Russian troops involved in a military exercise in western Russia, though he said he had no official confirmation of the move, Reuters reports."
That report said a little earlier "The Kremlin now seems to be distancing itself from the comments by presidential aide Sergei Glazyev that if the United States were to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, Moscow might be forced to drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to US banks."
Opinion: Too many chiefs and not enough Indians? Too many cooks spoil the broth? Too much spin and propaganda from all sides? Definitely too much debt and now he who pays the piper is calling the tune.
The war games of Russia's military exercises may be on hold but the "game" continues. Those touting for war best get themselves to the nearest army recruitment centre and put their money where their mouth is.
Revolution supporters in the Ukraine are bound to use any means they have available to force the hand of the west. Did they do that when a 3am deadline of threats from Russia was declared? It passed with no threat played out.
Are the war games of recent revolutions such as Libya, Syria and Egypt also playing out. Have we learned nothing? You know creating problems in order to pull the west in. Manipulating events while those with a thirst for war cheer on, flag waving for the west?
Are any of those countries enjoying an enduring peace following western interference?
Lies, lies and more lies, are being spoken by the West, Russia and some in the Ukraine. Who is the biggest liar? Hard to tell.
If the people want change then the people must sort this matter out. Perhaps they should take a leaf out of the 1914 Russian revolutionaries and fight for what they want? But surely diplomacy is a better option?
None of this is said to diminish the plight of Ukraine but as yet this writer remains unconvinced that revolutionaries in the Ukraine are to be trusted.
Of course if our leaders feel that they are it could because they are just more western lackeys?
That is for you to decide. Although political pundits do not expect an all out war we can never rule any such action out.
The probable outcome is Russia will take back the Crimea, a small region of the Ukraine, and those pro-Russian civilians in the area will go with it. Others will move over to Kiev or elsewhere in the Ukraine.
But that scenario will only be possible will dialogue, diplomacy and a sensible approach. The alternative should be unthinkable.
(Footage of Putin's statement as available)