In this video journalist Julia Ioffe said that in a "state-sponsored documentary" that aired on "Channel 1", supposedly "the main Kremlin TV channel", Russian president Putin said that he gave the order to send the so-called "little green men" into Crimea. She says that the documentary is called "The Road Home to the Motherland". I've searched for this title but haven't found anything official about this documentary. I found an article on "The Telegraph" titled:

Putin reveals the moment he gave the secret order for Russia's annexation of Crimea

According to the article the documentary is called "Crimea: The Road to the Motherland" and was supposed to be shown on the Rossiya-1 channel. I haven't been able to get any information on this documentary, but I found a teaser on Youtube uploaded in 8 March 2015.


2 Answers 2


The BBC also has an article on that documentary. Barring any translation errors, what Putin said was a less obvious admission of the methods, at least those prior to the events...:

Mr Putin said on TV he had ordered work on "returning Crimea" to begin at an all-night meeting on 22 February. [...]

"I invited the leaders of our special services and the defence ministry to the Kremlin and set them the task of saving the life of the president of Ukraine, who would simply have been liquidated," he said.

"We finished about seven in the morning. When we were parting, I told all my colleagues, 'We are forced to begin the work to bring Crimea back into Russia'."


Mr Putin subsequently admitted deploying troops on the peninsula to "stand behind Crimea's self-defence forces".

RFERL has an article (and a video with English subtitles) on the Putin comments, the most clear part about the "little green men" being:

"In order to block and disarm 20,000 well-armed [Ukrainian soldiers], you need a specific set of personnel. And not just in numbers, but with skill. We needed specialists who know how to do it," Putin said in the documentary.

"That’s why I gave orders to the Defense Ministry -- why hide it? -- to deploy special forces of the GRU (military intelligence) as well as marines and commandos there under the guise of reinforcing security for our military facilities in Crimea," Putin added.

There is a bit of a time gap between these orders/discussion on the 22nd and the obvious appearance of the "little green men" on the ground in Ukraine, at least in terms of obvious actions, like seizing airports and the local parliament/assembly, all of which took place in the night of 27 Feb and the day of 28. But some of their movements were traced as early as Feb 25, e.g. the arrival of Nikolay Filchenkov in Sevastopol likely with Spetsnaz/KSO on board. (Interestingly, Feb 27 was later decreed by Putin to be KSO day.)

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    So I guess "special forces" means "little green men" or "polite people". It seems Putin and others have all been playing games about it, like when the day these "polite people" took over the Crimean Supreme Council building and raised the Russian flag was made into Special Operations Forces Day in Russia.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 12:21

No he did not. As usual, the devil is in details.

According Ukraine - Russia agreement about navy base at Sebastopol Russia was allowed to raise quantity of troops at the base without asking permissions. I am not sure as of exact numbers but looks like something around 40,000 was limit. Usual quantity of personnel was around 15000-20000 I believe. Thus - Russian troops never exceeded that (arranged and legal) limit during Crimea referendum.

Of course Putin as commander in chief SHALL order such quantity change (or at least know about this) but - this was PERFECTLY LEGAL. In this interview to BBC: https://www.bbc.com/russian/russia/2014/04/140417_putin_phone_line (I believe one could find translation) he says "we stayed at the back of crimea defence forces" during referendum. But "staying at the back" does NOT mean in any way something alike "being Crimea defense forces". Sure - all that was managed by intelligence services.

But that is true worldwide. No matter it is CIA or FSB or Mossad or MI6 or .... whoever job and no questions asked: every intelligence service in the world participate in any events it thinks it should participate. For example, it is widely known US CIA paid for Russian elections when Eltsin won. In fact CIA (and so - USA) forged that elections. No-one asks them questions. Intelligence agencies are intelligence agencies. It IS their job. Same at Crimea.

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