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Zelensky urges Donbass residents who consider themselves Russian to leave for Russia

According to the Ukrainian president, "there won’t be a civilization without Ukraine" on the Donbass territory
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky  AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky
© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

KIEV, August 5. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that it is a big mistake to remain in Donbass for those citizens who consider themselves Russian and advised them to go to Russia. He made this statement in an interview with the Dom TV channel a fragment of which was published on Thursday on the channel’s website.

"I think that if you live on the Donbass territory today, which is temporarily occupied, and you think that ‘our cause is right, we need to be with Russia, we are Russian,’ then it is a big mistake to remain living in Donbass, it will never become Russian territory. Never. It doesn’t matter for how long it has been occupied, it’s like that wall that used to be in Germany," he said. In relation to that, the head of state asserted that "for the sake of your children and grandchildren it is already time to go find a place for yourself in the Russian Federation." According to him, "there won’t be a civilization without Ukraine" on the Donbass territory.

At the same time, the Ukrainian president addressed Ukrainians in Donbass and expressed confidence that the region will return as part of Ukraine. "If you feel that you’re Ukrainian and you respect the Ukrainian flag, the Ukrainian language, even if they didn’t teach you at school. Read books on your own. If you feel that you’re Ukrainian, be there. This land will be de-occupied," he asserted.

Mass protests broke out in Ukraine’s eastern territories inhabited mostly by the Russian-speaking population following a coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014 and President Viktor Yanukovich’s removal from power. In mid-April of the same year, Kiev’s authorities launched a military operation in Donbass in response. Heavy artillery attacks on residential quarters, including the use of aviation, caused a massive humanitarian disaster in the region.

In 2014, Kiev began implementing an economic blockade against Donbass. Since December 2014, the Ukrainian government stopped all social payments there, including pensions, as well as bank services for residents and enterprises.

After Zelensky, who promised to bring peace to Donbass, won the 2019 presidential election there have been no significant changes. The plan of a peaceful settlement of the conflict was signed in February 2015 in Minsk following the talks of the "Normandy Four" leaders (Germany, Russia, Ukraine, France). The document was called the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and has yet to be implemented.