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Special operation should have started earlier, but Russia still hoped for Minsk-2 — Putin

It was stressed that "now there is a question of trust on the agenda, and it is already close to zero"

BISHKEK, December 9. /TASS/. The special military operation in Ukraine could have started earlier, but Russia had hoped to reach a settlement within the framework of the Minsk agreements, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media on Friday.

He pointed out that what Germany’s ex-chancellor, Angela Merkel, had recently said about the Minsk agreements "merely shows that we did everything right from the point of view of launching a special military operation."

"It has turned out that no one was going to implement the Minsk agreements," Putin pointed out. "The leadership of Ukraine, as follows from what the former president [Pyotr Poroshenko] has said, also acknowledged that they were not going to act on what had been signed. But I still expected that the other participants would be sincere with us. It turns out that they also deceived us, their aim being to build up Ukraine’s military muscle and prepare it for hostilities. Apparently, we found our bearings too late, to be honest. Maybe, we should have started all this earlier, but we just hoped that we would be able to achieve a settlement within the framework of the Minsk agreements."

Putin acknowledged that Merkel’s statement was completely unexpected and disappointing: "Frankly speaking, I did not expect to hear this from a former federal chancellor, because I've always proceeded from the assumption that the German leadership is sincere with us. Yes, of course, it was on the side of Ukraine and supported it, but it still seemed to me that the FRG leadership always sincerely strove for a settlement on the principles that we had agreed on, which were achieved within the framework of the Minsk process."

He stressed that "now there is a question of trust on the agenda, and it is already close to zero." After statements of this kind the question arises of how one can go about the business of negotiating, what can be negotiated, whether it is possible to negotiate with someone at all, and where the guarantees are. At the same time, Putin remarked that a negotiated solution still had no alternatives. "I have said many times that we are ready for agreements, we are open, but this makes us stop to think about who we are dealing with," the Russian leader stated.

Merkel about Minsk agreements

In an interview with the German national weekly Die Zeit published on December 7, Merkel described the conclusion of the Minsk agreements in 2014 as an attempt to give Ukraine the time to get stronger. She argued that it was clear to everyone that the conflict was stalled and the problem had not been resolved, "but this was what gave Ukraine invaluable time." She expressed doubt as to whether NATO countries would have been able to provide support to Kiev at that time to the same extent that they were doing now.