The Wall Street Journal reports: Vladimir Putin said he prepared to put Russia’s nuclear forces on alert ahead of Crimea’s annexation from neighboring Ukraine last year and ordered his inner circle to retake the peninsula days before any proclamation of a local referendum.
The Russian president made the comments in a prerecorded interview during a documentary, “Crimea: The Road to the Motherland,” aired on state television Sunday. It came a day before the first anniversary of the Russia-backed referendum on the peninsula, a vote the U.S., Ukraine and Europe denounced as illegal.
The remarks marked the first time that Mr. Putin had acknowledged that Russian authorities had been laying the groundwork for Crimea’s annexation weeks before a referendum. The Kremlin had presented the outcome of that vote as the basis for Russia to reclaim the land. [Continue reading…]