In addition to defiantly insisting that his country was in the right for invading Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and backing pro-Russian rebels within the country, Putin at one point backed up his rhetoric with the threat of nukes. Specifically, as CNN reports, Putin told the Russian people, via state TV, that he was willing to back up his claim with ballistic missiles.
“We were ready to do it. I talked with colleagues and told them that this (Crimea) is our historic territory, Russian people live there, they are in danger, we cannot leave them,” he said, again re-iterating the narrative that he was simply taking what was Russia’s all along. “It wasn’t us who committed a coup, it was the nationalists and people with extreme beliefs,” he said. However, Putin also claimed that the nuclear option was a last resort and that he didn’t want the Crimea situation to devolve into a global nuclear conflict.