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Published: Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 6:50:02 PM
Updated: Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 6:50:57 PM

Putin says Russia did not initiate crisis over Ukraine

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia was not to blame for the crisis over Ukraine's Crimea region.

At a meeting with paralympic delegations in the Black Sea city of Sochi, Putin thanked officials for keeping politics out of the Winter Paralympics being hosted by Russia.

"I would like to express gratitude to you for keeping the Paralympics out of politics. And the uneasy circumstances which you well know about did not affect it. And I would like to stress that Russia was not the initiator of the circumstances that have taken shape," he said.

Crimea has been taken over by Russian forces and holds a referendum on Sunday on joining Russia. Ukraine and Western leaders say the referendum is illegal.

(Reporting By Alexei Anishchuk in Sochi, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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