Former Ukrainian President Wants a “Take Back” on Inviting Russian Troops Into Crimea

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 2 2014 7:11 PM

Former Ukrainian President Wants a “Take Back” on Inviting Russian Troops Into Crimea

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Deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych attends his press-conference in southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, on March 11, 2014.

Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, feels pretty crummy about the whole Crimea-to-Russia deal. Yanukovych, you’ll remember, wasn’t all that popular on the Ukrainian street at the end of his reign in February and endured months of protests in Kiev after deciding to deepen economic ties with Russia over Europe. But, that is small potatoes compared to Yanukovych’s parting shot as he fled to Russia last month. Here’s what went down via the Associated Press:

Putin said last month that Yanukovych had asked Russia to send its troops to Crimea to protect its people — a request seen as treason by many Ukrainians. Russian troops quickly overran Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority, taking over government and military facilities on the pretext of protecting Russians. Asked about the move, Yanukovych said he made a mistake. "I was wrong," he told the AP and Russia's state NTV television, speaking in Russian. "I acted on my emotions."
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It’s unclear which exact emotions Yanukovych is referring to in what may be the understatement of the year. Any way you look at it, it doesn’t seem like a “my bad” is going to clear things up for Yanukovych, who still claims he’s the legitimate leader of the country. He does have a plan, of sorts, and “vowed to try to negotiate with Vladimir Putin to get the coveted Black Sea peninsula back,” the AP reports. The ousted leader of the country, who is currently in Russia, however, doesn’t seem to have all that much leverage—with anyone at this point. Even Putin doesn’t seem that interested in his once strategic partner. “Yanukovych said he has spoken with Putin only twice by phone and once in person since he arrived in Russia, describing their talks as ‘difficult,’” according to the AP. “He said he hopes to have more meetings with the Russian leader to negotiate Crimea's return to Ukraine.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.