March 13 - Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for not wading into the tensions over Ukraine amid an insistence that Russia did not cause the ongoing crisis in the Crimea.
Following Russia's intervention in the southern Crimean peninsular of Ukraine a week before the Games, officials from several nations, including the United States and Britain, declined to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Paralympics in Sochi last Friday (March 7).
There were also concerns the Ukrainian team would launch a full boycott and, although this did not occur, they still voiced their dissent by sending only their flagbearer to participate in the Ceremony.
This was a decision approved of by the IPC, who have also called for politics to be left to the politicians and for sport to come to the fore throughout the Games.
Speaking at a reception with IPC members including President Sir Philip Craven this afternoon, Putin thanked the IPC for this stance, although without directly referring to events in Ukraine.
"I would like to thank you for the Paralympic Games staying out of politics and the complicated circumstances, which you all know about very well, had no impact on the Games," he said.
"And I would like to assure you that Russia did not initiate, it was not an instigator, of these difficult circumstances which you know and we are talking about here."
Putin added that the Winter Paralympics, which are witnessing record global television interest and unprecedented crowds at venues, had displayed Russia's "invariably kind attitude towards friends".
He added: "Russia has sincerely tried to host these games at the highest level so that they could strengthen the spirit of the Paralympic Movement and its values, not only in Russia but all around the world."
After six days of action Russia has a comfortable lead at the top of the medals table, with Ukraine lying in third place.
The two nations have enjoyed plenty of close battles in cross-country and biathlon events.
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