Authorities in the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk will continue to seek integration with Russia after the assassination of its president, the new leader of the region said on Saturday.
“Our foreign policy remains unchanged, it is integration with the Russian Federation,” DPR interim leader Dmitry Trapeznikov said in a statement circulated by his press office.
Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the independent region in what is internationally recognized as eastern Ukraine, was killed on Friday in an explosion in the center of Donetsk. Another 11 people were injured. The region’s finance minister, Alexander Timofeev, was taken to hospital in critical condition.
Donetsk officials say they are treating the bombing as an act of terrorism. Trapeznikov said several suspects confessed that the attack was orchestrated by the Ukraine – which denies the prosecution.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has referred to Zakharchenko’s death as a “vile murder” by those who prefer “the path of terror” than to find a peaceful solution to the four-year conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, President of Ukraine, Pyotr Poroshenko, met in Washington with US Special Representative for Negotiations in Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and discussed the situation in Donbass and extended sanctions against Russia, the Ukranian president’s press service said.
This Friday and Saturday Poroshenko visited the United States to bid farewell to US Senator John McCain.
“The parties discussed the security situation in eastern Ukraine and coordinated additional measures for the evacuation of Donbass,” the statement said on the Poroshenko website.
The Ukrainian leader also expressed his gratitude to the United States for continuing the policy of sanctions against Russia.
Poroshenko and Volker also exchanged views on strengthening the Ukrainian army’s defense capacity and addressed issues related to cooperation to prevent Russia from interfering with the Ukrainian elections, using the same narrative as western mainstream media that claims Russia interferes in their elections without providing evidence.