Putin Warns Kiev Against Blaming Territorial Losses in Donbas on Russia

President Putin congratulates Obama on US Independence Day
Putin cautioned the Ukrainian government against laying the blame for its military defeats in Donbas on Russia.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned the Ukrainian government on Monday against laying the blame for its military defeats in southeastern Ukraine on Russia's doorstep.

"It is extremely bad that they are both trying to justify their defeat and blame Russia for it. But the worst thing is that they are trying to take a stand-off between Ukraine and Russia to a higher level," Putin said in a televised show.

This comment comes amid increased accusations from Kiev, and also from the West, that Russia has been aiding militias in Ukraine' southeast to make territorial gains, specifically around a strategic rail hub of Debaltseve. The town was a hotly contested area for days before armed forces there encircled and trapped Ukrainian troops last week.

Russian President also said he believed that the conflict in southeastern Ukraine would gradually de-escalate once the warring parties there committed themselves to the Minsk peace plan.

"If Minsk accords are implemented, I believe that the situation [in Ukraine] will gradually normalize," Putin said.

He stressed that Europe and Russia were equally interested in a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.

"No one needs a conflict on the edge of Europe, especially an armed one," Putin added.

He noted that there was no need for a third round of Minsk talks on Ukrainian peace yet, and urged to focus on implementation of the February 12 ceasefire deal.

"There is no need for this yet – for any urgent measures to be taken – because these Minsk agreements, they are not just a document that was outlined by four negotiators in the Minsk process, meaning Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, they are enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution and have become an act of international law that has been effectively endorsed by the entire international community," the president said.

The Minsk accords were agreed on in Belarus earlier this month. According to a 13-point peace plan, the warring parties in eastern Ukraine agreed to cease fire and pull heavy artillery out of the firing distance to create a wide buffer zone. Both sides have since accused each other of breaching the truce.

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