"The country has fallen in bloody chaos, fratricidal conflict," ITAR-TASS quoted Putin as saying at a meeting with Russian lawmakers in the Black Sea resort city of Yalta.
He said that the situation is deteriorating. "A major humanitarian catastrophe has broken out in the southeast (of Ukraine)."
The Russian president also said he believed that Crimea may play a unifying role for healing historical scars and cementing Russian society.
"I believe that Crimea today may be a unique yardstick. It is capable of playing a unique unifying role for Russia, the role of a historical and spiritual source and another line of reconciliation of the Reds and the Whites."
Putin will be visiting Crimea later Thursday, where he is due to make a speech and meet local people.
Meanwhile, heavy shelling was reported in the centre of Donetsk, a stronghold of insurgents in eastern Ukraine, as more than 100 lorries carrying Russian aid into the region were approaching a rebel-controlled border crossing in the Luhansk region.
Ukraine has said the convoy must be inspected by international monitors before it can be let in.