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Dialogue between Kiev & people in eastern Ukraine needed to resolve conflict – Putin

Dialogue between Kiev & people in eastern Ukraine needed to resolve conflict – Putin
Kiev’s reluctance to engage in direct dialogue with the people living in Ukraine’s eastern regions, collectively known as Donbass, is still the biggest obstacle to resolving the long-standing crisis, Vladimir Putin has said.

Putin was asked about crisis resolution in Ukraine and the future of the Normandy Four talks between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany. The president said that some progress has been made in resolving the crisis, but it is direct dialogue between the authorities in Kiev and the people of Ukraine living in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics that could really help the cause. Yet, this is precisely what is lacking.

A direct dialogue with Donbass is needed. Yet, there is no dialogue.

Any move related to the status of the rebellious eastern Ukrainian regions should be coordinated with those regions, Putin said, adding that Kiev should not unilaterally take decisions on any “decentralization” issues that go beyond the framework of the Minsk Agreements which still remain the only plausible way to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.

Some positive steps have been made, the president admitted, such as troop withdrawal from several areas in eastern Ukraine, and the extension of the law on the special status of Donbass. Some new areas along the line of contact were further designated for troop withdrawal in 2020, during the latest Normandy Four meeting.

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Yet, it is not enough, Putin added, questioning in particular Kiev’s reluctance to pull its forces out from the entire line of contact in Donbass. “It was Kiev that cut the Donbass off by imposing a blockade of this territory,” Putin told the media conference.

After the eastern regions of Ukraine declared their independence from Kiev in 2014 following the coup against then-President Viktor Yanukovich, the post-coup Ukrainian authorities reacted by launching a military campaign against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. The violent conflict has since claimed the lives of 13,000 people, according to the UN. Former President Petro Poroshenko also imposed an economic blockade against Donbass.

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