(QHA) -

Crimea's prime minister Sergey Aksyonov has told the BBC the peninsula has returned to its historical Russian homeland and will never again be part of Ukraine, adding Crimea’s unification with Russia was a "democratic act".

"I can tell you that no-one took anything. That was the choice of the Crimeans. Nothing could happen without the support of the local population which is why this was not an act of aggression, but a real democratic act”- Crimean premier said.

"This is the main mistake and misunderstanding of Western leaders. People are misinformed by the media which is failing to give an accurate picture of what happened last year in Crimea"- he added.

Aksyonov defended President Putin's actions over Crimea, saying the Russian leader had been faced with a choice - protect the population of Crimea or abandon them to Ukrainian nationalists.

Crimea was formally absorbed into Russia on 18 March - amid international condemnation - after a disputed referendum boycotted by Crimeans loyal to Ukraine.

The referendum came after Earlier, unidentified gunmen, who were later admitted by Putin as Russian soldiers, had taken over the Crimean Parliament.

Crimea’s unification with Russia resulted in the US and EU imposing sanctions on Russian organisations and individuals, including Aksyonov.

QHA