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MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. The conclusion of the Minsk agreements on the possible solution of the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine became possible only after Russian became actively involved in the settlement process, but the agreements are not being implemented in full, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“The Minsk agreements arose only because Russia became actively involved in this effort; we worked with the Donbass militias, that is the fighters from southeast Ukraine, and we convinced them that they should settle for certain agreements,” Putin said in an interview with German TV channel ARD.
“If we had not done that, it would simply not have happened,” he said. “There are some problems with the implementation of these agreements, it is true.”
“What are those problems? Indeed, self-defence fighters, for example, were supposed to leave some of the towns they had surrounded, are yet they haven’t left,” the Russian president said.
“Do you know why not? I will tell you plainly, this is no secret: because the people fighting against the Ukrainian army say, ‘These are our villages, we come from there. Our families and our loved ones live there. If we leave, nationalist battalions will come and kill everyone. We will not leave, you can kill us yourselves.’ You know, it is a difficult problem. Of course, we try to convince them, we talk, but when they say things like that, you know, there is not much that can be said in response.”
“And the Ukrainian army also has not left some of the towns it was supposed to leave,” Putin said. “The militias - they are the people who are fighting for their rights, for their interests.”
According to the Russian president the determination of the demarcation line in Ukraine is important, but the immediate cessation of bloodshed to start a political dialogue is by far important.
“But if the central Ukrainian authorities choose not just to determine the demarcation line, which is very important today in order to stop the shelling and killing, but if they want to preserve the territorial integrity of their country, each particular village or town are not significant; what is important is to immediately stop the bloodshed and shelling and to create conditions for starting a political dialogue. That is what is important. If it this is not done, there will be no political dialogue.”
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire and exchange of captives during the OSCE-mediated talks in Minsk on September 5 that came two days after Russian President Putin proposed his seven-point plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but reports said it had been repeatedly violated since then.
On September 19, the Contact Group consisting of representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE as well as representatives from the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) signed a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of the ceasefire commitments laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.