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2 Feb, 2017 15:43

Putin on E. Ukraine flare-up: Kiev trying to extort US, EU cash by playing the victim

The Kiev government provoked the latest escalation of violence in east Ukraine as it needs money from its Western partners, which is easier to achieve when a nation pretends to be a victim and facing aggression, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

The Ukrainian leadership today needs money, and the best way to extort money is [to do that] from the European Union, from certain countries in Europe, from the United States and international institutions, presenting itself as a victim of aggression,” Putin said.

The Russian leader made the comments during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest.

Putin also noted that after supporting a particular candidate in the US presidential elections – apparently hinting at Hillary Clinton – the Ukrainian government is now seeking to establish closer ties with the new administration under Donald Trump.

“As we know, the current Ukrainian government took a one-sided position to support one of the candidates during the election campaign in the US,” he said.

“What’s more, some [Ukrainian] oligarchs were even financing this candidate – or female candidate to be more precise – likely with approval from the government.

Now they want to improve relations with the current administration and also using a conflict – it is always better, always more convenient, easier to draw in the new administration in solving the Ukrainian problems and thus establish some kind of dialogue.”

The Russian leader also said that Kiev is now facing mounting opposition to its policies and is attempting to distract attention from this.

“The Ukrainian opposition has been more active amid clear [government] failures in the economic area and social policy,” Putin said. He noted that the ruling elite in Kiev is now seeking to silence the opposition and “mobilize” people around the government, which is easier to achieve “against the background of a renewal of some conflict.”

Kiev “provoked” the latest tension in east Ukraine and is looking for an excuse not to follow the Minsk peace agreements, Putin noted.

“I think that the current Ukrainian leadership is not ready at all to apply the Minsk agreements and is looking for a reason to refuse their implementation.”

Kiev and anti-government forces have accused each other of provoking new military tensions in the past few days.

On Tuesday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it had spotted Kiev's tanks close to the town of Avdeevka, which is located near the disengagement line between government forces and the rebels. The Ukrainian representatives denied the presence of heavy weaponry in the town, although a BBC reporter has filmed the tanks, saying that they were apparently “ready for action.”