MOSCOW, July 17, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone on Thursday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin reported Thursday.
“The leaders discussed certain issues of bilateral cooperation and exchanged opinions on the situation in Ukraine,” the Kremlin’s statement said.
Pro-Kiev troops and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.
During the military operation, conducted since mid-April, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. According to Ukraine’s Health Ministry, 478 civilians have been killed and 1,392 wounded in it. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s war-torn Southeast.
“The president of Russia also stressed that further boosting of mutually beneficial bilateral ties regardless of the current political situation meets the interests of the peoples of Russia and Germany,” the Kremlin said.
During the conversation, Putin congratulated Merkel on her 60th birthday and called her one of the most influential European leaders under whose guidance Germany reached impressive successes in the social, economic and foreign policy spheres.