March 3, 2014
During his 90-minute phone conversation with President Obama on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that Russian military intervention in Ukraine could go beyond Crimea, the region now under effectively occupied by Russia.
That’s according to the Kremlin’s brief account of the phone call, initiated by Obama.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas,” it said.
Roughly one-third of Ukraine as a whole is considered Russia-leaning, an area about ten times bigger than Crimea. Those are the regions where a majority voted for the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich – now former president – in the 2010 election, and where most first-language Russian speakers live.