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Iran Press TV

Russia concerned by Ukraine militarization

Iran Press TV

Mon Feb 9, 2015 10:28AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced concern about the rapid militarization of Ukraine, with increased defense spending, while the country is struggling with economic woes.

Putin made the remarks during an interview with Egypt's most-widely-circulated daily, al-Ahram, prior to his visit to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, due on Monday.

"Ukraine is militarizing rapidly," said Putin, adding, "We can judge by the statistics: in 2014, the Ukrainian military budget increased by almost 41 percent."

The Russian leader added that preliminary data show that Ukraine's military budget will more than triple this year, reaching more than USD 3 billion, which is 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

"And this is happening when its economy supported mostly with international, including Russian, funds is in rather deplorable situation," he said, adding, "We certainly feel worried. We hope that common sense will prevail."

Last April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted the struggling Ukrainian government a two-year $17.1-billion loan package.

Vital condition for stability in Ukraine

The Russian leader also called for an immediate end to Kiev's military operations in the country's eastern regions, saying it is "the most important condition for the stabilization of the situation."

Furthermore, Putin said that attempts by the Kiev government "to exert economic pressure" and disrupt daily life in Donbass, including Donetsk and Lugansk regions, should stop, adding that such measures "only aggravate the situation."

This comes as Putin and his counterparts from Ukraine, Germany and France are slated to convene in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on Wednesday in an attempt to revive an earlier signed ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Russian forces.

If the talks fail in Minsk, the United States will arm the Western-backed Kiev government, according to sources in European Union diplomatic circles.

Several US Senators, including Chairman of US Senate Committee on Armed Services John McCain, have urged President Barack Obama's administration to supply Kiev with lethal arms.

The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence protests there in mid-April 2014.

CAH/HJL/HRB



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