SEVASTOPOL, August 18./TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hopes that the situation in the Donbas region will not amount to open large-scale clashes between the militias and the Ukrainian army and that he believes there is no alternative to Minsk-2.
"I hope that it will not come to direct large-scale clashes," he told reporters.
"As for the Minsk-2 agreement, I believe there is no other alternative for resolving the situation and that peace will prevail in the long run. Our task is to minimize the losses, with which we will come to this peace," he added.
The Russian leader also noted that the blame for the current escalation of violence in Ukraine rested with Kiev rather than the militias. "Unfortunately, today we see the escalation, and the blame for this rests not with the militias, it rests with the opposite side," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, the Russian side has evidence that the Ukrainian army is amassing troops and military equipment in Donbas. "It was the Donbas militias that suggested withdrawing all military equipment with caliber under 100 mm. Unfortunately, the opposite side didn’t do that. On the contrary, according to the available data, it is concentrating its units there, including those reinforced with military hardware," Putin said.
However, he declined to comment on remarks by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko regarding the Russian president’s trip to Crimea. In response to a request to comment on these statements, Putin recalled that Crimeans had closed the chapter on the issue of the future of the peninsula during the referendum.