Despite official efforts to keep mum about whether Russian troops are on the ground in the Ukrainian peninsula, one soldier calmly carried on and on in front of the camera during an interview published this week on the Internet.
Wearing a brand new -- and unmarked -- uniform, the soldier tries to keep a lid on his background before quickly revealing that he and members of his unit belong to the Russian military.
"Which army do you belong to?" asks an interviewer in the clip posted by UkrStream.tv and titled "Russian Soldier in Kerch Gives Interview."
"Can't you guess yourself?" the uniformed man asks, before spilling the beans in a back and forth that goes on for more than five minutes.
Soldier: "Because that's the kind of uniforms we have, without insignias."
Journalist: "Are you Ukrainian or Russian?"
Soldier: "I'm a Russian soldier."
Journalist: "A Russian soldier."
Second journalist: "What are Russian soldiers doing on Ukrainian territory?"
Soldier: "Because...don't you watch television?"
The video recording also shows several other armed men in similar uniforms with at least five military trucks in the background. The man says he is in charge of the unit.
At the highest levels, Moscow has never admitted sending forces to the Crimea, home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
Armed forces chief Valery Gerasimov has been quoted as telling his U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, that the unmarked troops in Crimea were "well-trained militia forces responding to threats to ethnic Russians."
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said he does not know where the soldiers came from. And the Russian president himself, Vladimir Putin, flatly denied that the troops were Russian, telling reporters on March 4 that "you can go to a store and buy any kind of uniform" and claiming that the troops in question were "local self-defense units."
-- Farangis Najibullah