Moscow was ready to put its nuclear forces on alert to ensure Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year, President Vladimir Putin said in a pre-recorded documentary aired on Sunday.
Putin also said that Russia had saved the life of Ukraine's former pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovich, who he said had been in danger after 'revolutionaries' seized power following weeks of violent street protests in Kiev last year.
"For us it became clear and we received information that there were plans not only for his capture, but, preferably for those who carried out the coup, but also for his physical elimination. As one famous historical figure said: 'No person, no problem'," Putin said.
Protests over Yanukovich's decision to back away from a trade agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow forced him from power in February last year. Yanukovich's overthrow ultimately prompted Russia to seize and annex the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.