Putin: Resolution of Donbass crisis depends on Ukrainian leader’s commitment to withdraw forces

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KIEV – Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in early October that he does not consider resorting to military force to retake the Donbass region and Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that “it is not clear whether Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will be able to act successfully to ensure full separation of forces in eastern Ukraine.”

According to him, the solution of the situation in the Ukrainian region taken by conflicts “depends on it”.

“The question is whether he [Zelensky] will successfully accomplish what he has said publicly and what is considered appropriate, namely the separation of the warring parties along the contact line in two settlements,” Putin told a news conference in Budapest after meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

“This lasts for years, and now it is clear why. Because the nationalists do not want to leave and do not want to let the Ukrainian troops leave [the area]. I do not know if the Ukrainian authorities can bring this to a conclusion, but many things really depend on it. This in the context of conflict resolution in Donbass,” Putin emphasized.

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Earlier this month, the Ukrainian president defended, on television, the preservation of the lives of Ukrainians rather than armed conflict.

“I, as president, am not ready to lose our people, so I chose diplomacy. I have always said that if we are talking about people and territories, the first priority is people, while the second is territory. I want try to find a way out of the crisis thanks to the Minsk Agreement and the Normandy Quartet,” said Zelensky.

Following the coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014, the Donetsk and Lugansk (Donbass) regions declared their independence unilaterally. In response, Kiev has launched a military campaign against Donetsk and Lugansk, which has already killed 13,000 people, according to the UN.

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