MOSCOW — Accusing the West of encouraging an "unconstitutional coup" in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow reserves the right to use its military to protect Russians there but voiced hope it won't need to do so.
The Russian leader's first comments on Ukraine since its fugitive president fled to Russia came just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev to meet with Ukraine's new government.
Putin declared that Western actions were driving Ukraine into anarchy and warned that any sanctions the West places on Russia for its actions in Ukraine will backfire. Both the U.S. and the 28-nation European Union have raised the possibility of sanctions against Russia.
The U.S. government, meanwhile, announced an aid package Tuesday of $1 billion in energy subsidies to Ukraine, which is scrambling to get international loans to fend off looming bankruptcy. It's finance minister says Ukraine needs $35 billion to get through this year and next.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.