The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A brief rundown of Vladimir Putin’s strange, rambling press conference

In this frame grab provided by the Russian Television via the APTN, President Vladimir Putin, during a live feed, answers journalists' questions on the current situation around Ukraine at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence outside Moscow, on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Russian Television via APTN)
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Before most of the United States awoke on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was giving a press conference explaining what lay behind his strategy in Crimea and Ukraine.

Or rather, pretending to explain.

To the dozen or so journalists in the room, and the many more watching remotely, it seemed to be a series of half-truths, circular reasoning, and bravado. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right, Julia Ioffe of the New Republic has observed, Putin has "lost his mind."

You can read a full transcript here, but for the key takeaways, read below:

I'm going to ignore a whole bunch of evidence to the contrary, and say there are no Russian troops on the ground:

“Look at former Soviet republics,” he said. “You can go to a store and buy a uniform. Were these Russian soldiers? No, they’re very well-trained self-defense forces.”

But Russia might use international force at some point:

“If I decide to use armed forces, it will be in line with international law.”

Euromaidan is still full of fascists and neo-Nazis:

They were probably shooting themselves to make a point:

That said, I understand why they want Ukraine to change:

Viktor Yanukovych is still president, but yes, I agree he is terrible:

Yulia Tymoshenko is sort of okay though:

Ukraine is now a "new state," which means that all old treaties (such as the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Russia agreed to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine) are void:

This whole thing is America's fault anyway:

“They sit there across the pond as if in a lab running all kinds of experiments on the rats,” Putin said. “Why would they do it? No one can explain it.”

And America's done bad stuff too:

Ukraine's oligarchs are terrible, even worse than Russia's:

Someone's cellphone rang and he kicked them out:

And he scolded a reporter:

This isn't an interview anyway:

Okay, that's pretty much it. What's the real takeaway from this though? Perhaps we should leave that to the Post's Anne Applebaum:

UPDATE: As was pointed out in the comments, this press conference was held on Tuesday, not Wednesday. We've updated to fix that error.