Putin Flexes Muscle Amid Ukraine Crisis

Russia shows off military capabilities as relations with the West reach all-time lows.
11:04 | 05/08/14

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Transcript for Putin Flexes Muscle Amid Ukraine Crisis
This is a special room. Show -- showing off its military capabilities today amid escalating tensions over Ukraine -- Russian president Vladimir Putin oversaw the exercise involving the country's nuclear forces. The show of force comes right after Putin said he was moving Russian troops away from the Ukrainian border. But NATO says there is no sign of that happening yet hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York. Russia flexing its muscle as folks in Ukraine planned ahead to the polls. The relationship between Russia and the west at their lowest point since the Cold War. Because of the conflict in eastern Ukraine Putin has called for cities in Ukraine to delay a referendum vote. For autonomy but pro Russian groups or ignoring the suggestion. The BBC's Daniel Sanford has this report from Moscow. Moscow has been admitted she knew this week preparing to celebrate the -- of Nazi Germany. Nor against the backdrop of the annexation of Crimea. And the continuing conflict in -- in Ukraine. But in the Kremlin today President Putin meeting the Swiss presidents showed his first signs of wanting to. According on the armed pro Russian activists in -- in Ukraine to delay that controversial referendum. He witnessed it here. It was him we call on the representatives. Of -- -- Ukraine. This support us all of the federalization. Of the country. To postpone the referendum should do it for May be inevitable that education. -- could be a breakthrough if not just to delaying tactic. But the key question as mr. Putin left the room was -- the pro Russia activists. -- do with kiosks. It was a dramatic manner -- President -- role in forcing everyone Johnston for decades before the referendum was due to be. They with the situation in Ukraine deteriorating by the day youth. President Putin may just have been linked. He could be worried about Russia's economy people's -- here had been transformed by -- oil exports. But from Exxon in Paris an economist once close to President Putin. Warns that sanctions will undermine his promises to his people. This from a suspect to have put on paper to Bentsen -- -- teacher still crescent public in general. This promises that are based on the come on the growth of five or 6% -- year. -- growth is going. I duhalde's -- Russian Nationalists like controversial academic Alexander -- again I'll still dry -- President Putin to realize that dream of a greats are Russia. Before it most sensitive to be. -- -- imperialists. -- -- -- -- To restore. Begrudge. But now it is a kind go -- or reality. Say president -- still busting his Crimea triumph. May just be playing for its filing today that he may have decided to pull back from the brink. And avoid -- that sanctions and isolation. On your -- to BBC news Moscow. For more on the exercise and president Putin's actions I want to bring -- ABC's Louis Martinez -- the Pentagon Louis. The military exercises were planned before hand but still strong show of force from Russian President Putin right. And definitely Michelle and it's a reminder that Russia is a nuclear nation and that what they did today was they launched Intercontinental ballistic missile from the western part of the country. Ali of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east. -- reminder that they had a submarine nuclear force that they launched two submarine launched missiles. So -- and an even broader scenario was fact that these admit missiles are being launched and and the exercise -- bases if there was this was a counterstrike. The United States in other words had launched potentially a strike -- Russia the -- showing that they are capable of launching a counterstrike. Against the United States so that the some of the some of the symbolism here very strong. And a reminder that the united that Russia is a nuclear nation now one thing to note this these exercises are not a surprise the United States. Because of binding treaty agreements both countries have to you. Notify the other country. Long in advance. Pending exercises and this was a case. The -- saying that this exercise was planned long ago back in November. But it is also asking the city's of course in eastern Ukraine to delay that referendum what signal does that send. What is set a broad range of interpretation here about what exactly who is trying to -- achieve right now. By tempering the rhetoric -- with regards to eastern Ukraine. There -- some feel he's actually trying to get negotiations and issues settlement. Obviously been a strong push in the international community. For that situation to be -- -- -- to decrease. Through diplomacy. There's other others who are taking that fact that what are -- -- doing here is buying some time. Because he has -- they've gotten some bad press because of the situation Crimea and eastern Ukraine. And by may be tempering down a little -- to get some more time for future activity in the and later who -- and knows when that could be. And of course the back and forth with -- and commenting that he's pulling away forces from the border NATO says they haven't seen that yet. -- does NATO seemed to think that he might stick to his word on this one. Well it's unclear -- both NATO and the US are saying that -- not seen any activity over the last 48 hours indicates that Putin's words. There's claims that the Russian troops -- -- is accurate. One official told me earlier that the only activity -- he's seen. It is from these Russian forces when he leave their bases going -- there exercises near the border and going back. So nothing that would indicate a large. Regrouping of Russian forces away from the border. With Ukraine. So for now only unity in the United States. Sending the message through its NATO allies that they have their back. We have those ongoing exercises in the north and Baltic region. In that's gonna continue. And you know we heard about the economic concerns. Is -- blinking in the fee is how would this help him or how could it hurt us. It has been a lot of talk about how these sanctions are really paper tigers because there's really nothing that could be done to prevent Russia from going into. I eastern Ukraine because again nobody wants to see this rise to the level of hostilities. So you do what's and you can't win in this case it's economic sanctions. So that they've gotten a lot of negativity -- they're not gonna have that much of an impact but what you will be seen. With the Russian stock market is -- -- -- since those sanctions went into place. And David is our kind of having an impact now I think -- had gonna have the impact its actually -- Impacts of Russian decision making that remains to be seen. Soul is wouldn't -- still unclear. And of course from overseas in the military exercises pregnant present President -- is rumored to be going to Crimea tomorrow the region that -- annex just a few weeks ago. There seems to be a big dichotomy in what Clinton is saying and what he is doing. Well -- going to Crimea what he's trying to achieve -- gain international recognition for the fact that this. Annexation as -- college has taken place in Crimea. The broad range of international community does not accept this annexation. They feel that the vote. That was held the referendum was -- And that the Russia really should not be taking control of this region of Ukraine. Now -- he may be tampering down the rhetoric. In the -- with regards the eastern Ukraine. But again. We've seen that are in the continued criticism from American officials and in -- That what needs to happen is that. These irregulars as they're called these men wearing those green uniforms who -- is suspected are actually Russian special forces who are inciting all the trouble. In the eastern Ukraine. That their support that their activities in Michigan just -- the the international community calling on Russia to stop. Their support feared for those activities and that I think is ultimately going to be the the biggest indicator because of those forces. Pull away if they stop seizing these government buildings and he's -- we'll really see that the actions are matching words here from -- But -- there's still a lot of unrest there is NATO afraid -- this conflict could escalate from the Ukrainian side as well. Well privacy concerns by escalating the way -- the western half of the train and Odessa which is which has a sizable Russian population is well. You know there have been concerns that made it the by the Russian side that the Ukrainian government has been overstepping its bounds. Are you seeing picnic the rhetoric -- Calder called -- being called fascist. This before government took place in in Ukraine. I think it is there's also the concerned because the military in Iraq Ukraine has operated now and we've moved into the east. And we've seen some tensions we've -- some fire fights. But ultimately I think everyone wants the situation calmed down on both sides because that nobody wants to see this -- any for an. And of course -- will be close to President Obama on June 6 on the seventieth anniversary of about -- coming to this event. Am hopeful we just heard today that -- is definitely gonna go to the ceremonies. Ali you know it's a gain access big symbolic event the gathering of -- allies from award -- -- -- -- -- on the beaches -- -- And the White House saying that they were not surprised that. -- he's going to be going there about as for now they are no plans for President Obama to meet on the sidelines of this with the President Putin. So it's going to be interesting to see the picture there of these two -- -- -- words such odds right now. Probably posing for a group picture and nothing more -- again. We knew we heard a lot about the big handshake to President Obama had with -- Castro the president of Cuba. At president Mandela's funeral in South Africa a couple of months ago. I wonder for -- get to similar discussions about a handshake with that President Putin and that the celebration. We just -- ABC's -- Martinez that the Pentagon thank you for joining us thank you. You can keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- and -- in this story for exclusive updates on the -- For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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