MOSCOW, April 16. /TASS/. No war between Russian and Ukraine is possible, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual question and answer session officially known as Direct Line with Vladimir Putin.
"No, I presume it’s impossible," Putin said during his annual live question and answer session known as Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, answering a question put by a resident of Russia’s town of Gukovo near the border with Ukraine. "Don’t worry," he said.
The president added that "there have been certain excesses linked with the fact that shells fired from Ukraine’s territory were reaching the area, but in this case I prefer to be based on the understanding that they were random accidents rather than attempts to damage our cities or infrastructure facilities from the cross-border region.".
The Russian president also once again stressed that no Russian troops are involved in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.
"Are there Russian troops in Ukraine? I will put it straight: there are no Russian troops in Ukraine," Putin said in response to a question posed by politician Irina Khakamada.
Putin said that the chief of staff of the Ukrainian army had put it the best way at a meeting with his foreign colleagues. "We are not fighting against the Russian army," the chief of staff said directly and publicly.
"What else can be added to his words?" Putin asked.
According to the president, Russia sees Ukraine as a free and independent state.
He did not agree with statements that Russia had allegedly "missed" Ukraine’s rejecting the sphere of its influence. "There was no rejection. Ukraine is an independent state, and this must be treated with respect," he said.
"We ourselves rejected all this" in the early 1990s, when the decision on sovereignty of the Russian Federation was made, he noted. "We relieved them of our presence, we did it ourselves, it was our decision. And if we did this, we must respect their independence," Putin said.
"It is the choice of the Ukrainian people how to build relations," he added.
Vladimir Putin said he believes that the fate of Donbas should be defined by its citizens and the Kiev leadership needs to show flexibility and wisdom.
"I think that in conditions of the implementation of the Minsk agreements some elements can be found for restoring some common ground with Ukraine but in the final end, of course, the right to say the decisive word - who, how and with whom wants to live and on what conditions - should belong to people who live in these territories," Putin said.
The Russian leader answered a question on what the Donbas status should be. He added that the decision of local citizens "would largely depend on the flexibility and political wisdom of the Kiev leadership."
According to the president, Russia sees no wish of the authorities in Kiev to restore the economy or social sphere of Donbas area.
"We do not see any wish of the current leaders in Kiev to restore the social sphere or the economy of Donbas. That is true," Putin said. "We have talked about that a lot. That is stated in the Minsk Accords. It is to be implemented, but nothing is being done," he said.
Putin said Donbas is in a full blockade at the moment, saying "this concerns the financial sphere, including the banking sector, the payment of social allowances and pensions".
"We discussed this a lot with Pyotr Alexeyevich [Poroshenko], I myself spoke about this - it is all right that there are people there who stand up for their rights with weapons in arms [it is another question whether this is right or wrong], but there are people there who have nothing to do with this, who have earned their pensions, also having worked for already 20 years in an independent Ukraine," Putin said.
"Where do they come in, why don’t you pay them as you must do under the law?" he asked. "Thus, the present Ukrainian authorities are cutting Donbas off with their own hands," Putin said.
Putin said Russia has no empire ambitions
"We are not going to revive the empire, we have no such goals - what they constantly attempt to accuse us of," Putin said.
Putin reminded that Russia has good relations with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. He noted that such integration processes are taking place around the world.
"We have no empire ambitions, but by developing concerted action and cooperation, we can ensure dignified life, including for the Russian people living today abroad in the CIS countries that are close to us," he said.
The president said Russia does not expect anything from the Kiev authorities except for getting the treatment that the Ukrainians would give to any equitable partner in all areas.
"As for now, we don’t want anything from the Kiev authorities except for getting a treatment from them they would give to all the equitable partners in all the areas of collaboration," Putin said.
Moscow puts emphasis on the observance of legitimate rights and interests of the ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, as well as the rights of the people who consider themselves to be Russian regardless of what is said in their passports, who name Russian as their native tongue, and who feel unbreakable bonds with Russia, Putin said.
Europe and North America prefer to turn a blind eye on the string of political murders in Ukraine and their poor investigation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the televised question-and-answer session on Thursday about the killings of journalist Oles Buzina and legislator Oleg Kalashnikov in Ukraine.
"Where are the murderers of these people? There are none in sight. Neither the killers nor those who ordered the murder. Europe and North America prefer to ignore this," Putin said.
He emphasized the fact that in Ukraine "we can see a whole series of such [political] murders."
Putin recalled that Russia recently saw a similar event - the killing of Boris Nemtsov.
"The law enforcers must do their utmost to expose the criminals," he said. "The attackers are already arrested."
In contrast to this, he remarked, "in Ukraine, which positions itself as a democratic country and seeks admission to democratic Europe nothing of the kind is happening."
Putin offered condolences to the Oles Buzina’s relatives and dear ones.