Putin: Kiev Needs to Sit Down for Talks With Donbass Republics and Agree Measures to End War

© Sputnik / Mikhail Klimentyev / Go to the mediabankVladimir Putin meets with Russian Security Council, 18 February 2022.
Vladimir Putin meets with Russian Security Council, 18 February 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
As one of three guarantors to the 2015 Minsk Agreements on Ukrainian peace, Russia has regularly called on Kiev to implement the agreed upon measures in the peace plan, including amendments to the country's constitution to grant the breakaway Donbass regions broad autonomy.
Kiev needs to sit down at the negotiating table with leaders of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics and agree the measures needed to resolve the conflict, and the sooner it does so, the better, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

"The Belarusian president and I stated that the guarantee to restoring peace in Ukraine and relieving tension around this country lies with the implementation of the Minsk Agreements," Putin said, speaking to reporters after his talks with President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday.

"All Kiev needs to do is sit down at the negotiating table with representatives of the Donbass and agree on political, military, economic and humanitarian measures to end this conflict. The sooner this happens, the better," Putin added.
The Russian president lamented that unfortunately, at the moment, "we are witnessing, on the contrary, an aggravation of the situation in the Donbass."
"The settlement process is still stalled. Despite all our efforts and contacts at the level of advisors to the leaders of the Normandy format countries [Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France], our consultations on this issue with partners have not helped," Putin said. Kiev, the Russian president suggested, is refusing to comply with the Minsk agreements and categorically rejecting direct dialogue with the self-proclaimed republics.
"Kiev is essentially sabotaging the implementation of the agreements to amend the constitution, regarding the special status of the Donbass, local elections and amnesty," Putin said.
Commenting on the growing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko accused Western politicians of behaving in a "stupid" and dangerous manner.

"For the first time in decades, we have found ourselves on the verge of a conflict that could swallow up almost the entire continent like a funnel. Today we see in all its glory the irresponsibility, and pardon the frankness, stupidity of a number of Western politicians, which defies logic; we see behaviour of the leaders of regional countries which defies logic or reasonable explanation, their downright painful desire to walk along the very edge of conflict," the Belarusian leader said.

Donbass Escalation

Friday's meeting between Putin and Lukashenko comes at the conclusion of a tension-filled week, with the prediction by Western officials and media that Moscow would begin an "invasion" of Ukraine on Wednesday proven false, and the Biden administration and the outlets whose stories were debunked adjusting their claims to suggest that an incursion will actually start after the 20th of February. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the invasion claims as a pretext for NATO to beef up its military footprint in countries surrounding Russia.
The past 48 hours have also seen a dramatic escalation in back-and-forth claims by Kiev and the Donbass breakaways accusing one another of sniper fire and shelling using artillery, mortars and anti-tank weapons systems, with the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and the Ukrainian Army reporting dozens of incidents on a daily basis.
On Friday, Donetsk People's Republics chief Denis Pushilin urged residents to begin evacuating to Russia, citing the threat of a Ukrainian invasion and constant shelling by Ukrainian forces. Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the Lugansk People's Republic, similarly called on people not involved in maintaining critical social and civilian infrastructure to leave, and asked all men of fighting age to remain behind and take up arms to defend the republic.
A toy is pictured on the contact line with Ukrainian armed forces in the village of Molodezhniy in Luhansk region, self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, Eastern Ukraine - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
Donetsk People's Republic Starts Evacuation of Civilians as Shelling by Ukrainian Forces Intensifies
In addition to Ukrainian regular armed forces formations, the Donbass is known to be filled with neo-Nazi volunteer militias, as well as foreign mercenaries from countries including Poland and Britain. Last week, Donbass militias spotted Ukrainian S-300s, heavy artillery and foreign mercenaries operating near the front line and warned of the dangers of an imminent provocation.
Signed in February 2015 after months of bloody fighting between Kiev forces and Donbass militias, the Minsk Agreements instituted a ceasefire in the region and compelled both sides to pull heavy weaponry back from the front lines. The peace deal, which provides Kiev with a means to return Donetsk and Lugansk to its jurisdiction in exchange for broad constitutionally guaranteed autonomy, succeeded in stopping mass bloodshed but has been stalled amid accusations of violations of the ceasefire, and by Ukrainian leaders' refusal to implement its political portion.
The war in the Donbass began in the spring of 2014 after Kiev sent troops to try to crush fledgling independence movements which sprang up in the aftermath of the February 2014 coup in Kiev, which replaced the country's democratically elected president with a pro-US, pro-EU and pro-NATO junta.
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