This week, BBC contributor John Sweeney managed to do what very few journalists have been able to in recent months when he put Russian President Vladimir Putin on the spot with questions about the Russian incursion into Ukraine and takeover of the Crimean Peninsula.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Sweeney said, “the killings in the Ukraine, thousands are dead, Ukrainians, Russians, Malaysians, British. So, sir, do you regret the killings in the Ukraine?”
“I will answer,” said Putin through a translator, “The essence of the tragedy in Ukraine, from my understanding is that the current government in Ukraine does not want to conduct political negotiations with the eastern regions of the country, political and essential negotiations.”
“What’s the purpose, then, of military operations of those people in the southeastern regions?” he continued. “What was the reason? What provoked their actions?”
Putin went on to say that hostile Ukrainian regiments had surrounded the cities and villages in eastern Ukraine and began to shell them. Russian and pro-Russian forces are active in the region, he said, to protect those cities and villages from the Ukrainian government. Western media, he said, has been remiss in reporting this aspect of the conflict.
He then nodded curtly and walked away.
Watch the video, embedded below via YouTube and Russia Today: