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Zelensky says Kiev will not pull back troops from Donbass at DPR, LPR’s request

The Ukrainian President pointed out that Kiev was not communicating with DPR and LPR

KIEV, February 22. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said on Tuesday that Kiev would not consider a request by the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) to pull back the Ukrainian troops from its controlled Donbass districts.

"We are not communicating with them. We do not understand who they are," Zelensky said at a joint press conference with Estonian President Alar Karis, responding to a question about whether Kiev would consider the request by the Donbass republics.

Lawmaker of the LPR People’s Council Dmitry Khoroshilov stated earlier on Tuesday that measures could be taken to restore the integrity of the entire territory of the republic, if Kiev did not pull back its troops outside the Lugansk Region. He pointed out that under the republic’s law the LPR territory included the entire former Lugansk Region. The lawmaker said that it was necessary to call on Ukraine to pull back its troops voluntarily because otherwise "measures will be taken that will allow establishing peace and territorial integrity on the entire LPR territory."

Official Kiev has repeatedly stated that it refuses to hold direct negotiations with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as it considers them senseless. Zelensky, in particular, has claimed that the leaders of the republics "decide nothing" and, therefore, it is not worth "wasting time" on negotiations with them.

On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russia signed agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with their leaders. Putin instructed the Foreign Ministry to establish diplomatic relations with the DPR and the LPR and the Defense Ministry to ensure peace on their territories.