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

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living