Vladamir Putin insisted there has been no deployment of regular troops to the disputed territory
Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted he does have soldiers in the Ukraine doing "certain military tasks".
However, he insists their presence does not constitute a deployment of regular troops.
Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014, which was part of Ukrainian territory. It sparked conflict between Ukrainian nationalists and groups described as Russian loyalists - suspected to be working for the Russian defence forces.
Speaking at a news conference this morning, the Russian President said: "We never said we don't have people in Ukraine solving military issues there. But that doesn’t mean we have deployed regular troops there."
Mr Putin also said he expected economic relations between his country and the Ukraine to deteriorate further next year.