Ukraine crisis: Putin calls for 'statehood' talks and warns Russia will not stand aside while people shot 'point blank'
Russian president says discussion is needed to uphold interests of local people
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Sunday 31 August 2014
The Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a discussion on the 'statehood' of eastern Ukraine, Russian media has reported.
Speaking to the national TV network Channel 1, Mr Putin urged talks on a political solution to the crisis that are aimed at "safeguarding the legitimate interests of those people who live there".
He has previously called for talks between the central government and the separatist rebels in the east, which Ukrainian forces have been fighting since April.
The Russian President's use of the word 'statehood' comes after he recently referred to regions in eastern Ukraine as "Novorossiya" (New Russia).
However, his spokesman said this did not mean Moscow now endorsed rebel calls for independence for territory they have seized.
Mr Putin also warned it is “impossible to tell” when the protracted conflict will end.
He was quoted by the Russian Itar Tass agency as saying the end of the crisis "largely depends on the political will of current Ukrainian authorities."
"It must be borne in mind that Russia cannot stand aside when people are being shot at almost at point blank," he added.
On Saturday, European leaders considering fresh sanctions against Moscow said Russia was practically in a “state of war” against Europe.
The threat of deeper sanctions was dismissed by Mr Putin, who accused the the EU of "backing a coup d'etat" in Ukraine.
Kiev and the West say Russia has assisted rebels throughout the conflict, a claim Moscow has consistently denied. Fighting escalated after Russia formally annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March, and has claimed the lives of over 2,600 people to date.
It comes as Ukrainian volunteer troops claimed dozens of men were killed when pro-Russian forces reneged on an agreed window of time to allow surrendering troops to withdraw from a town seized by rebels.
READ MORE: Ukraine crisis: Is this what Ukrainians really think of Putin?
Comment: Nato is at a crossroads
Troops had attempted to leave the town of Ilovaisk, which has been encircled by rebels for more than ten days, on Saturday.
Ukrainian troops who escaped the encirclement claimed pro-Russian separatists fired on them “from all sides”, one soldier told the Associated Press, killing dozens.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops and local residents were reinforcing the port of Mariupol on Sunday, the next big city in the path of pro-Russian fighters who pushed back government forces along the Azov Sea this past week in an offensive on a new front.
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 MH370: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
- 5 'Killer robots' with AI must be banned, urge Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and thousands of others in open letter
Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
Israel accused of killing 75 children during day of 'carnage' and war crimes in Gaza war
Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
MH370: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall
£120 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: An excellent three form entry scho...
£120 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A lovely primary school in the bor...
£11 - £18 Per Hour: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Mechanical Maint...
£65000 Per Annum bonus & benefits package: The Green Recruitment Company: The ...