Poroshenko sent Ukrainians to die in Kerch Strait in hopes of boosting approval rating – Putin
The Ukrainian sailors whose vessels were intercepted by Russia’s coast guard last month were meant to serve as cannon fodder, and the fact that none of the Ukrainian service members died in the clash caused disappointment in Kiev's “ruling circles,” Putin told journalists during an annual Q&A conference.
“They hoped that some of them would die, but, thank God, this did not happen,” Russia’s president said. He went on to accuse Poroshenko of using the provocation to boost his sagging approval ratings ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.
On November 25, three ships of the Ukrainian Navy entered Russia’s territorial waters while traveling from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait. Moscow claims that the Ukrainian vessels made dangerous manoeuvres and did not comply with demands from Russian authorities to stop.
The ships were rammed by the Russian coast guard and three Ukrainian personnel were wounded. In total, 24 Ukrainian sailors were detained and prosecuted for illegally crossing Russia’s border.
Putin stressed that the incident was a plot to escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine, noting that two of the captured Ukrainians were members of the Ukrainian Security Service.
Putin regrets poor relations with Kiev
On the question of Russia’s involvement in East Ukraine, Putin noted that it was Kiev – not Moscow – which has placed an economic blockade on Donbass. Despite what unsubstantiated news reports claim, it's Ukrainian soldiers who are shooting at fellow Ukrainians, Putin added. He acknowledged that Russia provides aide to the people of Donbass, but described this help as necessary for their survival.
Putin also expressed regret that Ukraine – one of Russia’s largest trading partners – had taken such a hostile attitude towards its neighbor. He said that anti-Russia sentiment was being used by Kiev against the interests of their own people.
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