Russia will always defend ethnic Russians in Ukraine and Ukrainians who feel inrevocable ties with Russia, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The recall of this decree does not at all mean that we intend to pay no attention to what is happening (in Ukraine),” Putin said after high-level talks in Austria on Tuesday.
Russia will always defend both “ethnic Russians in Ukraine, and that part of the Ukrainian population and people who feel their inseparable links – ethnic, as well as cultural – with Russia and feel part of the broader Russian world,” said the Russian president.
“And we will, of course, not only watch closely but also react adequately. I hope the Russian armed forces will not be required,” Putin said.
He stressed that Russia wants to create conditions for peace talks in Ukraine, which is why the head of state asked the upper house to recall the decree allowing the use of Russian armed forces in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is glad he did not exercise his right granted by the Federation Council to use the Armed Force in Ukraine.
Speaking at a press conference after talks with the Austrian president in Vienna on Tuesday, he recalled that his request was forwarded to the upper house of the Russian parliament at a time when events started to unfold around Crimea.
“As you know, we did not use our Armed Forces literally for hostilities, thank God. Moreover, we did not even exceed the army numbers envisaged by international treaties. In that sense, the Russian president did not exercise the right granted to him by the upper house of the parliament,” Putin said.
He admitted that “we did use our armed formations to ensure a free vote in Crimea and to block certain armed groups from the Ukrainian army to prevent them from interfering with the voting process and to prevent casualties”.
“But from the viewpoint of tactical deployment, no use of Russian Armed Forces has taken place. Thank God for that,” Putin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over reports of resumed hostilities near Slavyansk and urged the authorities in Kiev to ensure a real end to the bloodshed in Ukraine.
“Regrettably, I now have the latest information that a skirmish is taking place in one of the most troubled spots, the area around the city of Slavyansk, paratroopers have landed there and there are already casualties. This is sad,” Putin told a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday.
“Declarations should be backed up with concrete action, otherwise not one problem of this sort will be resolved,” the Russian president stressed.
The seven-day truce in southeastern Ukraine, declared by the Ukrainian President, Petr Poroshenko, is insufficient, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I agree with Mr. President in that a seven day period is apparently insufficient,” he said at a press conference after talks with the Austrian President, Heinz Fischer.
“What is meant here is not just the ceasefire. This involves concrete agreements between all conflicting parties,” the Russian leader said.
“We informed the Ukrainian side about this and we conveyed this information to President Poroshenko: It is not enough to declare the truce. Substantive talks on the essence of the problem must be started,” Putin said.
“If we hear and if we continue hearing that there are seven ceasefire days given to disarm, but not a single attempt is made during this time to negotiate an agreement with eastern Ukraine, then all efforts will come to nothing and no result will be attained,” he said.
But if it becomes clear that substantive talks have begun for the people in eastern Ukraine to finally understand how their legitimate interests will be guaranteed, “then success will be achieved with greater probability,” Putin said.
“I was happy to state that contact began yesterday between representatives of the Kiev leadership and southeastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk. We must acknowledge that the contact produced no major agreements. But the fact that dialogue got underway is an extremely important and positive moment, in my opinion,” the Russian president said.
What has been done in Ukraine is not enough yet to settle the crisis, added Putin.
“In my view, and I’ve told [Ukrainian President] Petr Poroshenko about this: what has been done so far is not enough to truly overcoming the crisis. Because just saying only that combat activity will stop for seven days and those who don’t disarm in seven days will be destroyed, is not a way to peace,” Putin said.
The ceasefire that has been declared in Ukraine is “still an important step in the right direction,” Putin said. “We hope the truce will be extended,” he added.
Russia wil attend the talks between Kiev and representatives of southeast Ukraine with an open mind, said the Russian President.
“First of all, we are setting no preconditions on the course of the talks between the authorities in Kiev and the eastern Ukraine. Chiefly because Russia is not party to this conflict,” Putin told a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday.
At the same time, he stressed that the talks should be “about the future structure of Ukraine proper, with legitimate rights and interests guaranteed for the people living in the southeast of the country”.
Moscow’s and Vienna’s assessments of the events in Ukraine coincide in many respects: it is necessary to stop the bloodshed and start a dialogue between Kiev and the East of Ukraine, The President of Russia said.
“We’ve discussed in detail topical issues on the international agenda, including the dramatic events in Ukraine. Our estimates coincide in many respects,” Putin said at a press conference following his talks with the President of Austria.
“We are united in one thing: that it is necessary not only to speak about the termination of bloodshed, but to really achieve the end of this bloodshed,” Putin noted.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer has said that Kiev must make its contribution to the negotiating process with representatives of the southeastern Ukraine and act in the framework of an outstretched-hand policy.
Fischer welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request for the Federation Council on revoking the resolution authorizing the use of the armed forces in Ukraine.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Putin in Vienna on Tuesday, Fischer said he was convinced that the crisis in Ukraine can be settled only in a peaceful way and that the peace plan proposed by President Petr Poroshenko is a reasonable starting point on which further negotiations should be held.
Fischer also doubts that Western sanctions against Russia will be efficient. “I am convinced that no one can gain anything from sanctions. Sanctions are not a means of gaining profit. No one gain anything from sanctions,” Fischer told the press conference.
“Some think sanctions are a means that will help implement something when other means no longer work,” the Austrian president said, addint that in his opinion it is better to act in some other way, to get closer to one another through talks. The Austrian president said sanctions are often used as ultima ratio whereas today we do not see whether we can find a solution that would be better than sanctions.