Putin asserts Russia's right to use force in eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned that Russia had the right to use force in eastern Ukraine and said the ousting of its former president, Viktor Yanukovych, was an “unconstitutional coup.”

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

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Putin said military force would be lawful because Yanukovych, who fled to Russia last week, requested that Russia’s military intervene in Ukraine. 

“My assessment is that it’s an unconstitutional overthrow and an armed seizure of power. No one has challenged that. Who is saying it’s not true?” Putin asked reporters in Moscow.

“There’s only one legitimate president. From the legal point of view it’s Mr. Yanukovych.”

Russian troops, meanwhile, were ordered from their military exercise in western Russia back to their base on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Russian forces, however, are still occupying Crimea - -an autonomous peninsula in Ukraine -- after they invaded last week.

President Obama has called Russia’s intervention “a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.” 

Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev on Tuesday for meetings with officials to express support for their new government. 

On Monday, Obama called on Congress to approve an aid package for Ukraine and repeated his threat to sanction Russia if the Kremlin doesn't withdraw its forces. 

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