Early on March 8, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin said Russia's president had "not yet exercised" his "right" to use military force in Ukraine, Radio Liberty reports.
Speaking on Russian television, Dmitry Peskov acknowledged only that Russia was protecting its military facilities in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
He repeated Putin's policy that Russia could not "just look on" when "deadly danger" threatened Russians "anywhere in the world."
Peskov added that Russia "fully understands" the concerns of ethnic Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine.
"You don't even have to try to imagine what happens tomorrow if those who were standing behind the coup in Kyiv get to the east or to Crimea," Peskov said. "It seems to me they won't be satisfied with simply pressuring those activists who protested against them."