Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea a “tragedy” on Wednesday and said he would try to negotiate the region’s return from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, The New York Times reports.

Yet he absolved both himself and Mr. Putin of any blame for the region’s secession, saying that Crimeans had voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia in a form of protest against the country’s new revolutionary government.

“Everything that happened in Crimea is the achievement of the current rulers of Ukraine, this is their radical position,”- he said.

Mr. Yanukovych, who spoke from Russian city Rostov-on-Don, has insisted in several appearances that he remains the country’s rightful president.