MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky genuinely wishes to improve the situation in southeastern Ukraine.
"It is very easy to answer the first question. What is my relationship with Zelensky? There isn’t one. I have never seen him. I don’t know him. We spoke over the phone. I think he is a nice man, an honest one. I think that he really wishes to change the situation for the better, especially in Donbass," Putin said during the plenary session of the Russia Calling forum on Wednesday.
"Whether he will be able to do it, I don’t know yet," the Russian leader added. "However, some positive steps have been made; that is, the disengagement of forces and equipment in two settlements, although the military reported to me yesterday that the attacks from the Ukrainian side continue. But I still expect the [armed forces] won’t return to these "gray areas,"" Putin said.
On November 12, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission confirmed the pullback of forces near Petrovskoye - the last of the three previously agreed pilot areas in Donbass.
The completion of disengagement in Petrovskoye finalizes the process of disengaging forces and weapons in three pilot security zones on the contact line, namely near Petrovskoye (in the Donetsk People’s Republic), Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya (both in the Lugansk People’s Republic). A framework agreement on disengagement of forces in Donbass was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in September 2016. The parties resumed efforts to implement the 2016 agreement after the 2019 presidential election in Ukraine.