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Iran Press TV

Donbas destiny not decided by Russia: Putin

Iran Press TV

Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:59PM

The Russian president has voiced support for the people in Ukraine's volatile Donabs region, but noted that the future of the violence-ravaged region "is not decided by Russia."

'Our souls and hearts are with Donbas," said Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

Putin noted that only "direct" negotiations between the Kiev government and pro-Russia forces can resolve the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine, urging both sides to cling to the Minsk ceasefire agreements.

'The most important is that there should be established a direct contact' between Kiev and pro-Russians 'in order to implement the Minsk agreements," he said.

Putin also referred to the easing of clashes between the two sides, saying the fact that the Ukrainian army has stopped shelling the restive region "is the most important recent achievement" of the truce deals.

'It is extremely important today that the shelling of Donbas from the positions of the (Ukrainian) military," he said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian president touched upon the recent decision by the Ukrainian parliament to grant more autonomy to the pro-Russians, saying, "Both the changes to the constitution, and the elections should be done with approval from Donbas.'

On August 31, Ukraine's parliament, known as Verkhovna Rada, passed the constitutional amendments that grant more autonomy to the pro-Russia eastern region of the country. The legislation greatly infuriated the country's right-wing nationalist parties and triggered clashes with security forces.

The two mainly Russian-speaking oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia protests there.

Minsk ceasefire deals

During peace talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11-12, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine's front lines and a ceasefire. The two sides, however, have continued to engage in sporadic clashes.

Back in September 2014, the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had signed another ceasefire deal in Minsk. However, the truce was violated on an almost daily basis by both the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russia forces.

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