Vladimir Putin insists that Kiev must enter substantial talks with pro-Russian rebels amid a dramatic escalation of the fighting in Ukraine.
“It is necessary to make the Ukrainian authorities start substantial talks,” the Russian President told youths at a pro-Kremlin summer camp in central Russia on Friday.
“It is necessary to hold substantial, meaningful talks, to understand what rights the people of Donbass, Lugansk, the entire southeast of the country will have,” Putin said in televised remarks.
“It is important to agree on substance. They don’t want to speak on substance, that is the problem.”
Putin spoke after Kiev and the West said that Russian regular troops were on the ground in Ukraine, fighting alongside ragtag formations of pro-Russian separatists.
Some experts said Putin’s late-night statement indicated that the Russian president is seeking to carve out a Moscow-controlled statelet on the fringes of Ukraine.
Indications in recent days hint that regular Russian troops have been sent to fight in Ukraine.
“I believe that what is happening in Ukraine right now is in principle our common colossal tragedy and it is necessary to do everything for it to stop as soon as possible,” Putin said on Friday. [AFP]