Russian President Vladimir Putin says his decision to take Ukraine's Crimea under Russian control was finally made after "secret polls" showed that its people wanted to be ruled by Moscow.
Putin was quoted as saying on April 10 that his government initially was not "prepared for such a turn of events."
He said that only after the "secret polls" were held, "it became clear once and for all that we have chosen our line of action well."
He said a first poll showed that 80 percent of the people of Crimea wanted the region to join Russia. He said that figure increased even more at the March 16 referendum, "when the process began developing."
Russia annexed Crimea after the referendum denounced as illegitimate by Ukraine and Western powers.