Vladimir Putin has spoken out to allay fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine by revealing that the 2,000 troops who arrived at the Crimean capital, Simferopol, were all off-duty and simply taking advantage of an attractive Groupon offer.
"The offer was good value and it's no surprise that it should appeal to our troops who have been working very hard lately guarding the Olympic village from terrorist attack. They had a lot of leave saved up and when the Groupon offer came along it seemed the perfect opportunity to take a well earned break in someone else's country", the Russian Premier explained.
"Ukraine people are very friendly and have not forgotten how we liberated them in 1944, so there is bound to be a warm and friendly welcome for our tired soldiers in the bars and clubs of the city."
Simferopol is not well known as a holiday destination with an average temperature in February of just above freezing, but it does boast the longest trolleybus line in the world.
"Obviously some of our men will want to enjoy a trip on the trolley bus and for that reason I cannot guarantee they will all return promptly after their weekend mini-break," conceded Putin. "But you never know. And if they do I am sure they will all have an exciting little piece of the Crimea to bring back as a souvenir.
"Perhaps all of it."