10:24 GMT - Putin phone-in - Putin is asked by a pensioner named Faina Ivanovna if Russia should also try to take Alaska which was famously sold by imperial Russia to the US in the 19th century. Putin says Russia has enough Polar territory, adding: "It's cold there too." Washington and Kiev want to get Moscow to demobilise militias and the US has threatened Russia with fresh sanctions unless it makes concessions. But Moscow categorically denies having dispatched elite special forces to Ukraine to stir unrest, instead blaming Kiev's interim leaders for pushing the country dangerously close to civil war.
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but recognized for the first time that the troops in unmarked uniforms who had overtaken Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula before its annexation by Moscow were Russian soldiers.