MOSCOW, July 6. /TASS/. Russia has never given a reason for accusations of wishing to disintegrate Ukraine, Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
"By no word or action did Russia give any reason to think it wants disintegration of Ukraine. We did not support such moods," Matviyenko said.
She said "Russia is trying to first of all speak in defense of people living in Donbas by political methods, at all levels."
The speaker recalled that residents of Ukraine’s southeast initially "did not demand any separation from Ukraine."
"They said they were tired of oligarchs they were given as region heads. They spoke for the right to choose local power bodies themselves, freely speak the Russian language, for greater independence in solving issues of economic and social development of their regions," she said.
"Instead of that, tanks and artillery were sent against them," Matviyenko said.
She stressed that Russia "empathized with the residents of [Ukraine’s] southeast, as people were fighting for their legitimate rights."
"After Kiev organized blockade of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russia is the only country that renders their residents systematic humanitarian assistance. Assistance from the Red Cross and the UN is one-time and less in scale," the official said.
She also said she does not think Ukraine is lost for Russia forever. "Have we lost Ukraine for good? I think that certainly not," Matviyenko said in the interview. "What connects us is stronger that what separates us."
The speaker said that in Russia "criticism of the Kiev authorities and their actions is not accompanied by hostile attitude toward the Ukrainian people." "There’s no stirring up anti-Ukrainian moods," she said, stating with regret that "not without patrons Ukraine was able to provoke Russophobe moods" but adding that "there’ll be insight."
After a coup occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, mass protests soon erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, mostly Russian speakers, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.
In response, Kiev in April 2014 announced the start of "an antiterrorism operation" in east Ukraine, which involved the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry’s National Guard and volunteer battalions made up of Euromaidan activists, many of whom hold far-right and neo-Nazi views.
Ukrainian troops have been engaged in fierce fighting with local militias during Kiev’s punitive operation, underway since mid-April 2014, against the breakaway territories - the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics constituting parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.
Massive shelling of residential neighborhoods, including with the use of aviation, has killed thousands and led to a humanitarian disaster in the area.
Kiev has regularly violated the ceasefire regime imposed as part of the Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The Package (Minsk-2) was signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarusian capital Minsk by participants of the Contact Group on settlement in Donbas.