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Russian President Putin says Ukraine needs federalization to settle conflict

November 17, 2014, 9:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

“Ukraine is a complex country, and not only due to its ethnic composition, but also from the point of view of its formation as it stands today,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

© Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS

MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. Ukraine needs federalization in order to settle the ongoing crisis in the country, while people living in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine need to realize that “they can decide something for themselves in their lives,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

In an interview with German TV channel ARD, Putin said, commenting on his vision of Ukraine’s future, that “Ukraine is a complex country, and not only due to its ethnic composition, but also from the point of view of its formation as it stands today.”

“Is there a future and what will it be like? I think there certainly is,” Putin said. “It is a large country, a large nation with the population of 43-44 million people. It is a large European country with a European culture.”

“You know, there is only one thing that is missing,” he said. “I believe, what is missing is the understanding that in order to be successful, stable and prosperous, the people who live on this territory, regardless of the language they speak (Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian or Polish), must feel that this territory is their homeland.”

“To achieve that, they must feel that they can realize their potential here, as well as in any other territories and possibly even better to some extent. That is why I do not understand the unwillingness of some political forces in Ukraine to even hear about the possibility of federalization.”

“We’ve been hearing lately that the question at issue should be not federalization, but decentralization,” the Russian president said. “It is all really a play on words. It is important to understand what these notions mean: decentralization, federalization, regionalization. You can coin a dozen other terms.”

“The people living in these territories must realize that they have rights to something, that they can decide something for themselves in their lives,” Putin added.

Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in February coup, erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking south-eastern territories after the Crimean Peninsula declared independence on March 11 and joined Russia on March 18 following a referendum.

Demonstrators in Ukraine’s south-eastern regions demand the country’s federalization. Kiev refused and instead launched what it dubbed as “an antiterrorism operation” against pro-federalization activists. Russia said the operation was punitive.

On May 11, the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions held referendums, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine.

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