Putin to Poroshenko, Merkel, and Hollande, “Stop shelling Donbass, now!”

From Fort Russ

Putin called on APU to stop shelling of Donbass immediately

RusVesna, May 24, 2016
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has called for an immediate end to the attacks on settlements in Donbas from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, according to the Kremlin press service.

A telephone conversation between the leaders of the Norman Quartet was held on Tuesday night.

“Putin has called for an immediate end to attacks by the armed Ukrainian formations on the settlements Donbass. It was emphasized that a key element of the settlement should be direct dialogue with Kiev-Donetsk-Luhansk for the full and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreement of 12 February 2015,” concluded the press release.

http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/05/putin-to-poroshenko-and-merkel-and.html

DPR defense ministry reports 34 episodes of shelling by Kiev troops

From TASS, March 21, 2015

MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. Thirty-four episodes of shelling by Kiev troops at militia positions and settlements of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have been fixed over the past 24 hours, republic’s defence ministry reports.

There have been no early reports about casualties among the population, but destruction in the private sector has been reported, the Donetsk News Agency quotes the ministry as saying.

“The enemy attacked both positions of militias and residential areas,” the ministry reported, adding that the cities of Gorlovka, Donetsk and Lozovoye were also shelled.

Marathon talks between the Normandy Four leaders – Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – in Minsk on February 12 yielded a package of agreements, which in particular envisaged ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides starting from midnight on February 15.

The package of measures envisages the pullback of all heavy weapons by both parties to locations equidistant from the disengagement line in order to create a security zone at least 50 kilometers wide for artillery systems with a caliber of 100 mm or more, a zone of security 70 kilometers wide for multiple rocket launchers and a zone 140 kilometers wide for multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch and the tactical rocket systems Tochka-U.

The final document says that the Ukrainian troops are to be pulled back away from the current line of engagement and the militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, from the engagement line set by the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

http://tass.ru/en/world/784157

Minsk 2 agreement — Text

Translation posted on the UK Telegraph, February 12, 2015
The footnotes for the agreement were not translated or posted by the Telegraph.

This was agreed to by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, and signed by East Ukraine leaders.

  • Immediate and full ceasefire in particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts of Ukraine and its strict fulfilment as of 00.00 midnight (Kiev time) on Feb. 15, 2015.
  • Pull-out of all heavy weapons by both sides to equal distance with the aim of creation of a security zone on minimum 50 kilometres apart for artillery of 100mm calibre or more, and a security zone of 70km for MLRS and 140 kilometres for MLRS Tornado-S, Uragan, Smerch and tactical missile systems Tochka U.

– for Ukrainian troops, from actual line of contact;

– for armed formations of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts of Ukraine, from the contact line in accordance with the Minsk memorandum as of Sept. 19, 2014

  • The pullout of the above mentioned heavy weapons has to start no later than the second day after the ceasefire and finish within 14 days.
  • This process will be assisted by OSCE with the support of the Trilateral Contact Group.
  • Effective monitoring and verification of ceasefire regime and pullout of heavy weapons by OSCE will be provided from the first day of pullout, using all necessary technical means such as satellites, drones, radio-location systems etc.
  • On the first day after the pullout a dialogue is to start on modalities of conducting local elections in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts,” and also about the future of these districts based on the above mentioned law.
  • Without delays, but no later than 30 days from the date of signing of this document, a resolution has to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, indicating the territory which falls under the special regime in accordance with the law “On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts,” based in the line set up by the Minsk Memorandum as of Sept. 19, 2014.
  • Provide pardon and amnesty by way of enacting a law that forbids persecution and punishment of persons in relation to events that took place in particular departments of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts of Ukraine.
  • Provide release and exchange of all hostages and illegally held persons, based on the principle of “all for all”. This process has to end – at the latest – on the fifth day after the pullout (of weapons).
  • Provide safe access, delivery, storage and distribution of humanitarian aid to the needy, based on an international mechanism.
  • Define the modalities of a full restoration of social and economic connections, including social transfers, such as payments of pensions and other payments (income and revenue, timely payment of communal bills, restoration of tax payments within the framework of Ukrainian legal field)
  • With this aim, Ukraine will restore management over the segment of its banking system in the districts affected by the conflict, and possibly, an international mechanism will be established to ease such transactions.
  • Restore full control over the state border by Ukrainian government in the whole conflict zone, which has to start on the first day after the local election and end after the full political regulation (local elections in particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts based on the law of Ukraine and Constitutional reform) by the end of 2015, on the condition of fulfilment of Point 11 – in consultations and in agreement with representatives of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.
  • Pullout of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, and also mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under OSCE supervision. Disarmament of all illegal groups.
  • Constitutional reform in Ukraine, with the new Constitution to come into effect by the end of 2015, the key element of which is decentralisation (taking into account peculiarities of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, agreed with representatives of these districts), and also approval of permanent legislation on special status of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in accordance with the measures spelt out in the footnotes, by the end of 2015.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/11408266/Minsk-agreement-on-Ukraine-crisis-text-in-full.html

DPR leader: Kiev betrayed 5,000 encircled in Debaltsevo

From Sputnik News, February 14, 2015

As Debaltseve is not mentioned in the Minsk agreement and that means that Kiev “simply betrayed” 5,000 Ukrainian armed forces’ soldiers.

DONETSK (Sputnik) – The forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) willcease fire everywhere except for inner regions of the self-proclaimed republic, any attempts of Kiev soldiers to break out the encirclement at the town of Debaltseve will be stopped, theDPR head said Saturday.“We are ceasing fire everywhere but inner regions of DPR. Any attempt of [Kiev soldiers] to leave the ‘cauldron’ [Debaltseve encirclement] will be stopped. I have already given this order,” Alexander Zakharchenko told reporters.

“There is not a single word about Debaltseve in [Minsk] agreements. That means that Ukraine simply betrayed 5,000 people in the ‘cauldron’,” Zakharchenko said.

Debaltseve, one of Ukraine’s biggest railroad junctions, has become the site of intense fighting between Kiev and southeastern Ukrainian pro-independence fighters.

Earlier in the day, deputy head of the DPR forces Eduard Basurin stated that the republic was not planning to let Kiev soldiers trapped in Debaltseve leave the town until they surrender. According to Basurin, Kiev told soldiers to not surrender, as they would be taken out ofDebaltseve in rotations or usingOSCE help after February 15.Kiev denies claims that its soldiers are encircled in Debaltsevo.

During Thursday’s Minsk talks, the leaders of Kiev and the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk managed to sign a deal, stipulating a ceasefire from Saturday night, prisoner swaps, weaponry withdrawal and constitutional changes in Ukraine.

Donetsk forces announced readiness to cease fire and allow surrounded Kiev soldiers to leave the Debaltseve area “on respectful conditions.”

An earlier ceasefire agreement reached by the warring sides last September broke down, with clashes intensifying in recent weeks. Debaltseve, one of Ukraine’s biggest railroad junctions, has become the site of intense fighting. According to reports, up to 10,000 Ukrainian troops remain surrounded after attempting to recapture the contested town.

 

http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150214/1018270783.html#ixzz3Rj1kQLp6

“All is lost”– Poroshenko after Minsk-2

From Fort Russ

2/12/2015

On the Outcome of the Minsk Negotiations: Kiev was given the opportunity to save face before dying.

By Ivan Lizan

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Imagine yourself as Petro Poroshenko for a minute: you fly in for a meeting, and you discover everyone is against you, the Europeans, the Russians, even the clever Belorussian with his little smile. The ally and patron is somewhere far away, behind an ocean. You have to run to make a phone call and get instructions. People are openly chuckling when you tell them there is no encirclement at Debaltsevo. They even ask you to leave the room so that Putin, Merkel, and Hollande can speak. You can’t believe in the outcome of the negotiations, and even tell the media that “all is lost.” A disaster.

But you still remember that your victory can easily be transformed into treachery, and you yourself can be deprived of power and even life. You have to save face, since you are not independent and don’t have any genuine power. Your competitor in Dnepropetrovsk already opened a parallel General Staff, and the efforts to disperse the Aidar failed completely. You even destroyed the coalition when you tried to make your friend/godfather the Prosecutor General.

So it’s better not to return at all without an agreement. It’s even more important not to return without an advantageous agreement. But there isn’t one. Because they put in front of you a compromise, and you had to sign on.

Holland and Merkel are beaming, because the plan worked and they believe in its implementation.

But only Lukashenko and Putin, and the DPR/LPR representatives understand what’s really going on.

Can you imagine how Poroshenko is supposed to issue orders to the Debaltsevo group after many of its officers had fled? If even Poltorak says that there is no encirclement. How are the Ukrainian soldiers to return to the demarcation line if they are encircled? Breaking out – means violating the ceasefire, staying put means death and capitulation.

You break the ceasefire and Minsk-2 collapses. But try to imagine how these measures are to be implemented.

First. Are the radicals going to agree to pay salaries to the “supporters of terrorism” on Donbass? For them salary non-payment is a victory over Putin.

Second. How do you intend to resurrect the Donbass special status law, after it was voided by the radicals in the Rada?

Third. How is Poroshenko going to command the territorial battalions and volunteer battalions, which are not under his control?

Fourth. How is he going to force his artillerymen to stop shelling Donbass cities?

Fifth. How is Poroshenko going to explain the troop withdrawal?

The answer is simple. He won’t. The provisions of the Minsk agreement are impossible to fulfill.

Incidentally, neither Kiev nor the republics plan to cancel their mobilizations. Units will be brought back to strength, and the republics’ mobilization is going somewhat better than Kiev’s. The war will inevitably continue, but the republics are in a better starting position than Kiev.

Therefore the outcome will be as follows: the ceasefire is temporary and will be violated. It only extends the death throes of the Kiev regime and of Ukraine as a state.

J.Hawk’s Comments: Lizan outlines Poroshenko’s quandary quite well, but in fact the situation is even worse for him.

For starters, Poroshenko clearly expected that the Minsk meeting would consist of The Leaders of the Free World (Poroshenko included) bringing “Putler’s aggression” to heel.

Instead it turned out to be Vlad and Friends putting the hurt on Poroshenko. From just observing the facial expressions and the body language, it was clear that he was on the receiving end of some serious pressure. Lavrov’s comment that the negotiations were going “better than super” was an early indication that Poroshenko walked into an ambush. What was the ambush intended to accomplish?

It would appear that Vlad’s Friends want Poroshenko to deal firmly with the Party of War in Kiev. It must have dawned on Merkel and Hollande (though the latter probably suspected this already) that the Kiev junta’s survival plan consists solely of hoping to provoke a large-scale conflict with Russia that would trigger a new Cold War on the European continent, and result in Ukraine being an “advanced forpost of the Western civilization”, an Israel of Eastern Europe of sorts, which in turn would mean billions and billions of dollars of economic and military aid. And the junta has no other plan. It never had any other plan. Its objective from the start was to provoke Russia (starting with “FSB snipers on the Maidan” and the moves to transfer the Sevastopol naval base to the US Navy) into doing something.

Well, they succeeded. Russia “did something”. It was only then that they discovered their miscalculation—the West does not have billions laying around to spend on cleptocratic Ukrainians with delusions of grandeur. Undaunted, they continued to escalate the situation, until the Europeans finally decided to step in, lest a full-scale great power war erupt on the European continent. First they apparently successfully convinced the Biden administration to kindly butt out by categorically ruling out deliveries of weapons to Ukraine. Then they pulled the plug on Kiev.

Poroshenko’s “mission impossible,” as it was evidently communicated to him by Hollande and Merkel, is to rein in the “war party” in Kiev by any means possible and then get on with destroying, excuse me, reforming the Ukrainian economy, Greece-style. It’s no longer self-evident that any violation of the ceasefire will be automatically blamed on Novorossia or Russia, as it was in the past. It is totally self-evident that no IMF credits will be forthcoming unless Poroshenko finally starts acting in a responsible manner. Moreover, considering what conditions are invariably attached to IMF credits, Ukraine’s ability to wage war will likely quickly decline due to the draconian budget cuts. Whatever Yatsenyuk had planned for this year will likely be significantly reduced if Yaresko is to convince Western donors Ukraine is serious about cutting government spending, and at the moment defense is where most of the money is.

So yes, by all means, try to put yourself into Poroshenko’s shoes at this point. His best chance is to convince the “war party” that their best chance is to help him stay in power. This line of argument has the benefit of having considerable merit to it, because should the Right Sector/Turchinov/whoever topple Poroshenko, would the new junta count on any support from the West?

Probably not, but do Yarosh and Turchinov realize it? The assumption Poroshenko and other sponsors of the Maidan made in unleashing the neo-Nazis on Ukraine’s political scene was that billions of dollars of Western aid would improve the situation in the country to such an extent that these movements would be starved of popular support. Instead, due to the deteriorating situation and the two lost military campaigns, they are gaining in strength, and their main enemy no longer is located in Donbass.

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/02/all-is-lost-poroshenko-after-minsk-2.html

 

 

On Minsk eve, Kiev refuses most terms, refuses to freeze conflict, asserts America can “thrash Russia”

by George Eliason, February 9, 2015
Posted on Global Research

According to the BBC on Febuary 9th President Barack Obama: ”The possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that is being examined.” What this means is if the Minsk talks fail, the US will supply lethal heavy weapons openly to Ukraine if Russia does not get into line with western policy.

Kiev, which has openly denied Russia is invading or sending regular troops into the conflict is now giving Russia an ultimatum. In October I traveled through the Donbass region and did invasive passport checks on soldiers. My findings agree with Kiev on this point.

There are no Russian military units or regular soldiers in the region. I interviewed Spanish volunteers. I spoke with Chechens, Afghanis, Russian citizens, and Cossacks. They are private citizens that have family here or have come to fight fascism so it does not spread further into Europe or Russia.

Even in the face of this According to the BBC Obama further stated “Russia had violated “every commitment” made in the failing Minsk agreement, he added, after talks with the German chancellor on a new peace deal.”

President Obama is under tremendous pressure from the combined Eastern European Caucus on Capital Hill to make this happen. For the nationalists the largest threat to them hasn’t been American democracy as it should have been, and should be. It has been Russia that has taken the lead in this and suffered the most for it.

On February 10th the Deputy Head of the Poroshenko Administration, Valery Chaly released these statements.

“Every decision concerning outcome of the upcoming meeting (Minsk) has been made already. Kiev unilaterally rejects all proposals for federalization, the expansion of the DNR an LNR to their administrative borders, and granting rights of broad autonomy.

The only thing that Kiev is ready to agree to is abolish duties between Russia and Donbass at their borders and indulge Donbass in the use of the Russian language.”

By taking any and all negotiations off the table, Poroshenko’s government has effectively rendered the Minsk talks and agreement worthless.

Taking a Stick To Russia’s Putin

Speaking for Poroshenko’s administration, Chaly went much further by saying under no circumstances will the conflict be frozen. In an ultimatum to Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia he boldly said “If Putin does not accept these terms the “West will thrash Russia! Russia will pay a high price, and among the serious consequences resulting from Russia’s lack of obedience would be an escalation of the conflict.”

How can Poroshenko’s Kiev escalate the conflict more than openly attacking civilians with banned weapons and destroying entire towns? The Ukrainian governments crimes against humanity in front of the world is what frames this conflict. This escalation can only mean drawing Russia into the conflict further, well beyond the diplomatic cover and humanitarian aid Russia is currently providing Donbass today.

This hit’em with a stick diplomacy is part and parcel to Ukrainian ultra-nationalist ideology. Diplomacy can only be conducted with a weapon pointed and your “enemy” crushed.

Heavy NATO weapons such as the Paladin artillery system and tanks are used in the arena already. The Ukrainian military has no training or experience on these systems. Will American troops fight for the openly nationalist Ukrainians? To date by the current reckoning well over 100 American mercenaries are buried here. Two US army military trainers were reported killed near Mariupol last August training Azov Battalion.

In one of the few articles to openly show the stark realities for Donbass the BBC in a congratulatory piece showed how much Ukraine is receiving for weapons and aid from private donors. It then compares the level of support Russia gives Donbass which according to the pro-junta BBC is minimal humanitarian aid.

Ukraine sealed off Donbass from getting medicines and foodstuffs from the west. Now it is demanding Russian do it from the East. It also demands that Russia take responsibility for weapons it is not sending. The twisted side politically is that Ukraine and the west want Russia’s Putin to take responsibility for decisions made outside his own country by the leaders of DNR and LNR who have clearly shown that while cooperative with Russia, Novorossya will be its own country. Vladimir Putin has also made it clear Novorossya does not have a future being absorbed as part of Russia.

Russia’s Response to the Ultimatum

As I sit writing this, the Kremlin has responded to both the ultimatums and the threat of US heavy weapons shipped openly to the conflict area. Simply, “we will respond to the US sending weapons with diplomacy.”

If Kiev was telling the truth about a Russian invasion through MSN all this time then US and EU troops are about to come in direct contact and conflict with them. This most dangerous of lies may eventually solve the problem of people not knowing where the Donbass conflict is. Should the worlds Titan countries go head to head, the Ukraine war, with Kiev’s lies, manipulations, war crimes, and eventual escalated attacks on Russia itself, may find its way to your own backyard.

For the American way of life, a crossroads has appeared in front of us. The decision about which road we should take will have profound effects on who we are as a country. If we are a great people we need to rely on and restore democratic principles.

If we sit by that decision is being made by neo-liberals and neo-cons for us today. In that case America will be remembered as a once great country that lost itself in both self-absorption and a nation that lost faith in its people. It became a people managed by its government. It is the most horrible of epitaphs.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-war-kiev-announces-americas-war-with-russia/5430558

German TV interview with President Vladimir Putin on the crisis in East Ukraine, the sanctions regime, Russian-German relations (VIDEO)

Vladimir Putin answered questions from Hubert Seipel of the German TV channel ARD. The interview was recorded on November 13 in Vladivostok.

HUBERT SEIPEL (retranslated from Russian): Good afternoon, Mr President.

You are the only Russian President who has ever given a speech at the Bundestag. This happened in 2001. Your speech was a success. You spoke about relations between Russia and Germany, building Europe in cooperation with Russia, but you also gave a warning. You said that the Cold War ideas had to be eradicated. You also noted that we share the same values, yet we do not trust each other. Why were you being a little pessimistic back then?

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/BdlXqyZHB9k” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, I gave no warnings or admonitions and I was not being pessimistic. I was just trying to analyse the preceding period in the development of the situation in the world and in Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I also took the liberty of predicting the situation based on different development scenarios.

Naturally, it reflected the situation as we see it, through the prism, as diplomats would put it, from Russia’s point of view, but still, I think it was a rather objective analysis.

I reiterate: there was no pessimism whatsoever. None. On the contrary, I was trying to make my speech sound optimistic. I assumed that having acknowledged all the problems of the past, we must move towards a much more comfortable and mutually advantageous relationship-building process in the future.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, which would not have been possible without the Soviet Union’s consent. That was back then. In the meantime, NATO is conducting exercises in the Black Sea, near the Russian borders, while Russian bombers conduct exercises in Europe’s international airspace. The Defence Minister said, if I’m not mistaken, that they fly as far as the Gulf of Mexico. All of this points to a new Cold War.

And, of course, partners exchange harsh statements. Some time ago, President Obama named Russia as a threat on a par with Ebola and the extremists, the Islamic extremists. You once called America a nouveau riche, who thinks of himself as a winner of the Cold war, and now America is trying to shape the world according to its own ideas about life. All of this is very reminiscent of a Cold War.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: See, you mentioned 2001 and I said that my perspective was rather optimistic.

We have witnessed two waves of NATO expansion since 2001. If I remember correctly, seven countries – Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and three Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – joined NATO in 2004. Two more countries joined in 2009. Those were significant geopolitical game changers.

Furthermore, the number of military bases is growing. Does Russia have military bases around the world? NATO and the United States have military bases scattered all over the globe, including in areas close to our borders, and their number is growing.

Moreover, just recently it was decided to deploy Special Operations Forces, again in close proximity to our borders.

You have mentioned various exercises, flights, ship movements, and so on. Is all of this going on? Yes, it is indeed.

However, first of all, you said – or perhaps it was an inaccurate translation – that they have been conducted in the international European airspace. Well, it is either international (neutral) or European airspace. So, please note that our exercises have been conducted exclusively in international waters and international airspace.

In 1992, we suspended the flights of our strategic aircraft and they remained at their air bases for many years. During this time, our US partners continued the flights of their nuclear aircraft to the same areas as before, including areas close to our borders. Therefore, several years ago, seeing no positive developments, no one is ready to meet us halfway, we resumed the flights of our strategic aviation to remote areas. That’s all.

HUBERT SEIPEL: So, you believe that your security interests have not been accommodated.

Let me return to the current crisis and to its trigger. The current crisis was triggered by the agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. The title of this agreement is relatively harmless. It is called the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. The key point of this agreement is to open the Ukrainian market to the EU and vice versa. Why is it a threat for Russia? Why did you oppose this agreement?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In reality the economy follows almost the same path as security. We preach the opposite of what we practice. We say that a single space should be built and build new dividing lines instead.

Let us look at what the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement stipulates. I have said this many times, but it appears I have to repeat it once again: it eliminates the import duties for the European goods entering Ukrainian territory, brings them down to zero. Yet as Ukraine is a member of a free trade zone within CIS, zero customs tariffs have been introduced between Russia and Ukraine. What does that mean? It means that all European goods will flow through Ukrainian territory directly to the customs territory of the Russian Federation.

There are many other things that may not be clear for people who are not informed regarding these matters, but they do exist. For example, there are technical regulations that are different in Russia and in the EU, we have different standards. Those are standards of technical control, phytosanitary standards and the principle of determining the origin of goods. By way of an example I would cite the component assembly of cars in Ukrainian territory. According to the Association Agreement, the goods manufactured in the territory of Ukraine are intended for our market within the framework of the Russian-Ukrainian free trade zone. Your companies that invested billions of euros in factories in Russia (Volkswagen, BMW, Peugeot, Citroen, the US Ford, and others) entered our market on completely different terms, on condition of deep localisation of production. How could we accept that? So we said from the outset, “We agree, but let us proceed step by step and take into consideration the real problems that can emerge between Russia and Ukraine.” What were we told in response? “It is none of your business, so get your nose out of these affairs.”

HUBERT SEIPEL: I would like to turn to the past. When the EU‑Ukraine Association Agreement was discussed, the negotiations took quite a while. This caused rallies on Maidan in Kiev. I refer to the protests during which people demanded a better life within the European Union. But they were also protesting against the Ukrainian system. In the end all that resulted in a wave of violence.

After the then president failed to sign the Agreement, it provoked an outbreak of violence, and people were killed on Maidan. Then the German Minister of Foreign Affairs arrived and tried to find a compromise between the protesters and the government, and managed to do that. An agreement was made providing for a government of national unity. It remained in force for about 24 hours and then it disappeared.

You followed closely the developments of September 21 and you remember how you talked with Mr Obama and Ms Merkel.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. Indeed, on February 21, not only the German Minister of Foreign Affairs but also his counterparts from Poland and France arrived in Kiev to act as guarantors of the agreement achieved between the then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. The agreement stipulated that the only path the process would take was the peaceful one. As guarantors, they signed that agreement between the official authorities and the opposition. And the former assumed that it would be observed. It is true that I spoke by telephone with the President of the United States that same day, and this was the context for our conversation. However, the following day, despite all the guarantees provided by our partners from the West, a coup happened and both the Presidential Administration and the Government headquarters were occupied.

I would like to say the following in this regard: either the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Poland and France should not have signed the agreement between the authorities and the opposition as its guarantors, or, since they did sign it after all, they should have insisted on its implementation instead of dissociating themselves from this agreement. What is more, they prefer now not to mention it at all, as though the agreement never existed. In my view, this is absolutely wrong and counterproductive.

HUBERT SEIPEL: You acted promptly. You, so to say, annexed Crimea and justified it at the time based on the fact that 60 percent of Crimea’s population were Russians, that Crimea has a long history of being part of Russia and, lastly, that its fleet is stationed there. The West saw that as a violation of international law.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What is your question exactly?

HUBERT SEIPEL: Did you underestimate the reaction of the West and the possible sanctions, which were later imposed on Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We believe that this sort of reaction was totally disproportionate to what had happened.

Whenever I hear complaints about Russia violating international law I am simply amazed. What is international law? It is first of all the United Nations Charter, international practice and its interpretation by relevant international institutions.

Moreover, we have a clear recent precedent – Kosovo.

HUBERT SEIPEL: You mean the International Court of Justice ruling on Kosovo? The one in which it stated that Kosovo had the right to self‑determination and that the Kosovars could hold a vote to determine the future of their state?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (In German.) Exactly. (Continues in Russian.) But not only that. Its main point was that when making a decision concerning their self-determination, the people living in a certain territory need not ask the opinion of the central authorities of the state where they presently live. They do not need the approval by the central authorities, by the government, to take the necessary measures for self-determination. That is the central point.

And what was done in Crimea was not in any way different from what had been done in Kosovo.

I am deeply convinced that Russia did not commit any violations of international law. Yes, I make no secret of it, it is a fact and we never concealed that our Armed Forces, let us be clear, blocked Ukrainian armed forces stationed in Crimea, not to force anybody to vote, which is impossible, but to avoid bloodshed, to give the people an opportunity to express their own opinion about how they want to shape their future and the future of their children.

Kosovo, which you mentioned, declared its independence by parliamentary decision alone. In Crimea, people did not just make a parliamentary decision, they held a referendum, and its results were simply stunning.

What is democracy? Both you and me know the answer well. What is demos? Demos is people, and democracy is people’s right. In this particular case, it is the right to self-determination.

HUBERT SEIPEL: It shows immediately that you are a lawyer.

But you know the arguments of the West as well. The West says that the elections were held under the control of Russian military. This is the reasoning of the West.

Let me touch upon the next issue. Today, Ukraine is more or less divided. Four thousand people have died, hundreds of thousands have become refugees and fled, among other places, to Russia. In the east of the country, Russian-speaking separatists are demanding broad autonomy, some want to join Russia. In accordance with the Minsk agreement, ceasefire was declared, but people are dying every day. The country is bankrupt. Basically everybody lost in the conflict. Ukraine seems to have lost the most, but Europe and Russia did as well. How do you see Ukraine’s future?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Ukraine is a complex country, and not only due to its ethnic composition, but also from the point of view of its formation as it stands today.

Is there a future and what will it be like? I think there certainly is. It is a large country, a large nation with the population of 43–44 million people. It is a large European country with a European culture..

You know, there is only one thing that is missing. I believe, what is missing is the understanding that in order to be successful, stable and prosperous, the people who live on this territory, regardless of the language they speak (Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian or Polish), must feel that this territory is their homeland. To achieve that they must feel that they can realise their potential here as well as in any other territories and possibly even better to some extent. That is why I do not understand the unwillingness of some political forces in Ukraine to even hear about the possibility of federalisation.

We’ve been hearing lately that the question at issue should be not federalisation but decentralisation. It is all really a play on words. It is important to understand what these notions mean: decentralisation, federalisation, regionalisation. You can coin a dozen other terms. The people living in these territories must realise that they have rights to something, that they can decide something for themselves in their lives.

HUBERT SEIPEL: The central question in the West as follows: will Ukraine remain an independent state? It is the central question now on the agenda. The second question is whether Russia can do more? Maybe Russia has more opportunities to expedite this process in Ukraine, in particular with regard to the Minsk agreements?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, when someone tells us that we have some special opportunities to solve this or that crisis it always troubles and alarms me. We have heard many times that Russia has a key to the solution of the Syrian problem, that we have some special opportunities to solve some other problem or the Ukrainian crisis. I always begin to suspect that there is an intention to pass on the responsibility to us and to make us pay for something. We do not want that. Ukraine is an independent, free and sovereign state. Frankly speaking, we are very concerned about any possible ethnic cleansings and Ukraine ending up as a neo-Nazi state. What are we supposed to think if people are bearing swastikas on their sleeves? Or what about the SS emblems that we see on the helmets of some military units now fighting in eastern Ukraine? If it is a civilised state, where are the authorities looking? At least they could get rid of this uniform, they could make the nationalists remove these emblems. That is why we have fears that it may all end up this way. If it happens it would be a catastrophe for Ukraine and Ukrainian people.

The Minsk agreements arose only because Russia became actively involved in this effort; we worked with the Donbass militias, that is the fighters from southeast Ukraine, and we convinced them that they should settle for certain agreements. If we had not done that, it would simply not have happened. There are some problems with the implementation of these agreements, it is true.

What are those problems? Indeed, self-defence fighters, for example, were supposed to leave some of the towns they had surrounded, are yet they haven’t left. Do you know why not? I will tell you plainly, this is no secret: because the people fighting against the Ukrainian army say, “These are our villages, we come from there. Our families and our loved ones live there. If we leave, nationalist battalions will come and kill everyone. We will not leave, you can kill us yourselves.” You know, it is a difficult problem. Of course, we try to convince them, we talk, but when they say things like that, you know, there is not much that can be said in response.

And the Ukrainian army also has not left some of the towns it was supposed to leave. The militias – they are the people who are fighting for their rights, for their interests. But if the central Ukrainian authorities choose not just to determine the demarcation line, which is very important today in order to stop the shelling and killing, but if they want to preserve the territorial integrity of their country, each particular village or town are not significant; what is important is to immediately stop the bloodshed and shelling and to create conditions for starting a political dialogue. That is what is important. If it this is not done, there will be no political dialogue.

I apologise for such a long monologue, but you make me go back to the essence of the problem.

What is the essence? The coup took place in Kiev. A considerable part of the country supported it, and they were happy partly because they believed that after the signing of, say, the Association Agreement there will be open borders, job opportunities, the right to work in the European Union, including in Germany. They thought that it will be like that. In fact, they have nothing of the sort. The other part of the country, the southeast, did not support it and said, “We do not recognise you.” And instead of starting a dialogue, instead of explaining to people that the central authorities in Kiev are not going to do anything bad, and on the contrary, they will propose various forms of coexistence and development of a common state, they are ready to grant them their rights, instead of that they begin making arrests at night. Once the night arrests began, people in the southeast took up arms. Once they took up arms, instead of stopping (the authorities should have the wisdom to do that) and starting this dialogue they sent the army, the air force, tanks and multiple rocket launchers. Is this a way to solve problems? And ultimately everything came to a deadlock. Is it possible to get out of it? I am sure that it is possible.

HUBERT SEIPEL: The question or, more properly, the claim made by Kiev today is that Russia supplies weapons to the separatists and sends its servicemen there.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Where did they get the armoured vehicles and the artillery systems? Nowadays people who wage a fight and consider it righteous will always get weapons. This is the first point.

But I would like to stress that this is not the issue. The issue itself is entirely different. The issue is that we can’t have a one-sided view of the problem.

Today there is fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian central authorities have sent the armed forces there and they even use ballistic missiles. Does anybody speak about it? Not a single word. And what does it mean? What does it tell us? This points to the fact, that you want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents. Is that what you want? We certainly don’t. And we won’t let it happen.

HUBERT SEIPEL: After the Crimea joined Russia, the West expelled Russia from the Group of Eight, this exclusive club of industrial states. At the same time the USA and Great Britain imposed sanctions against Russia. Now you are heading to a G20 summit of the most important industrial states on the planet. The focus there will be on economic growth and employment. They say, there is no more growth and unemployment is set to increase; the sanctions are starting to have an effect; both the ruble and the oil price have set anti‑records. The forecast of attaining 2 percent growth in Russia is unfeasible. Other countries are in the same situation. This crisis has a counter‑productive character, including for the upcoming summit, wouldn’t you say?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You mean the Ukrainian crisis?

HUBERT SEIPEL: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course, who could benefit from it? You wanted to know how the situation is evolving and what our expectations are. Of course we expect the situation to change for the better. Of course we expect the Ukrainian crisis to end. Of course we want to have normal relations with our partners, including in the United States and Europe. Of course, the situation with the so-called sanctions is damaging for the global economy (it is damaging for us and it is damaging for global economy as well) and it is damaging for the Russian‑EU relations most of all.

However, there are some advantages as well: the restrictions imposed on some Russian companies on purchasing certain  goods from Western countries, from Europe and the United States, have induced us to produce these goods ourselves. The comfortable life, when all we had to do was produce more oil and gas, and to buy everything else, is a thing of the past.

With regard to growth, we should note that this year growth was modest but it was present nevertheless at about 0.5–0.6 percent. Next year we are planning to achieve 1.2 percent growth, the year after that 2.3 percent and 3 percent in three years. Generally, these are not the figures we would like to have but nevertheless it is growth and we are confident that we will achieve these figures.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Another theme to be discussed in Brisbane will be financial stability. The situation in Russia may also be complicated because Russian banks can no longer obtain refinancing on world markets. Moreover, there are plans to close for Russia the international payments system.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russian banks have currently extended a $25 billion loan to the Ukrainian economy. If our European and American partners want to help Ukraine, how can they undermine the financial base limiting our financial institutions’ access to world capital markets? Do they want to bankrupt our banks? In that case they will bankrupt Ukraine. Have they thought about what they are doing at all or not? Or has politics blinded them? As we know eyes constitute a peripheral part of brain. Was something switched off in their brains?

The bank that I mentioned is Gazprombank, which only this year, this calendar year, has extended a loan of $1.4 plus $1.8 billion to the Ukrainian energy sector. How much is that in total? $3.2 billion. This is the sum it has allocated. In one case, it issued a loan to Ukrainian Naftogaz, which is a public company; in the other case, it allocated $1.4 billion to a private company in order to support Ukraine’s chemical industry. In both cases, today this bank has the right to demand early repayment because the Ukrainian partners have violated their loan agreement.

HUBERT SEIPEL: The question is if they are paying or not?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (In German.) They are paying at the moment. (Continues in Russian.) They are servicing the loan. Naftogaz is servicing one of the loans. However, there are some conditions that are being violated. Therefore, the bank has the formal right to demand early repayment.

But if we do it, the whole Ukrainian financial system will collapse. And if we don’t do it, our bank may collapse. What should we do?

Moreover, when we extended a $3 billion loan a year ago, there was a condition that if Ukraine’s total debt exceeded 60 percent of GDP, we, the Russian Ministry of Finance, would be entitled to demand an early repayment. Again, if we do it, the whole financial system will collapse. We have already decided that we will not do it. We do not want to aggravate the situation. We want Ukraine to get on its feet at last.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Do you intend to propose ways to resolve the crisis in Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Madam Chancellor is very much aware of all the nuances of this conflict. As for the energy problem, she has done a great deal for its solution.

As for the security issues, I would say that in this area our viewpoints and approaches do not always coincide. What is clear is that Russia and the Federal Republic of Germany want the situation in this region to be settled. We are interested in this and we will work for the observation of the Minsk agreements. There is just one thing that I always pay attention to. We are told again and again: pro-Russian separatists must do this and this, you must influence them in this way, you must act in that way. I have always asked them: “What have you done to influence your clients in Kiev? What have you done? Or do you only support Russophobic sentiments?” This is very dangerous, by the way. A catastrophe will happen if somebody surreptitiously supports Russophobia in Ukraine. It will be a real catastrophe! Or shall we seek a joint solution? If so, let’s bring the positions of the parties closer together. I am going to say something that some people in this country may not like. Let’s try to achieve a single political space in those territories. We are ready to move in this direction, but only together.

HUBERT SEIPEL: It is very difficult to correct the mistakes made by others. Sometimes it is only possible to correct one’s own mistakes.

I would like to ask you: have you made mistakes?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: People always make mistakes. Every person makes mistakes in business, in private life. Does it really matter? The question is that we should give a rapid, timely and effective response to the consequences of such mistakes. We should analyse them and realise that they are mistakes. We should understand, correct them and move on towards the solution of problems rather than an impasse.

It seemed to me that this is the way we acted in our relations with Europe as a whole and the Federal Republic of Germany in particular over the past decade. Look at the friendship that has been established between Russia and Germany in the past 10–15 years. I don’t know if we had ever enjoyed such relations before. I don’t think so. I see it as a very good base, a good foundation for the development of relations not only between our two states, but also between Russia and Europe as a whole, for the harmonisation of relations in the world. It will be a pity if we let it go to waste.

HUBERT SEIPEL: Mr President, thank you for the interview.

Source:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/interview-with-president-vladimir-putin-the-crisis-in-east-ukraine-the-sanctions-regime-russian-german-relations/5416638

Video: http://youtu.be/BdlXqyZHB9k