Mar. 4 - President Vladimir Putin says Russia sees no need to use military force in Crimea for now, in remarks apparently intended to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin softened his stance on Crimea on Tuesday.
He said military force in the eastern region of neighboring Ukraine is not his first option.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING:
"What can be a reason to use the armed forces? This is of course the last resort, simply the last resort."
Putin's comments may have been designed to lower East-West tension over fears of a war in the former Soviet republic.
But he also reserved the right to use the military option in Ukraine.
He called the new government there an "unconstitutional coup," and said Moscow needs to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine from what he described as "terror" and "lawlessness" in the country.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING:
"Let any military personnel just try and shoot at their own people! And we will be behind those people, not in front of them, but behind. Let them just try to shoot at women and children. I would want to look in the eyes of those who would order that in Ukraine."
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Ukrainian capital.
A show of U.S. support for Kiev's top new leadership.
The U.S. also announced a billion dollar aid package for Ukraine.
U.S. officials say they're ready to impose - within days -- sanctions against Russia.
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