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Iran Press TV

Putin accuses Ukraine of provocation, 'purposefully exacerbating' situation in Donbass

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 08 April 2021 5:40 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Ukrainian government is "purposefully exacerbating" the situation in the southeastern parts of its own territory through provocative actions.

Putin made the remarks during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday as both leaders "expressed concern" over the escalation of tensions in southeast Ukraine.

"The President of Russia and the Chancellor of Germany expressed concern over the escalation of tensions in the southeast of Ukraine," said the Kremlin in a statement.

"Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative actions of Kiev, which has recently been purposefully exacerbating the situation on the frontline," it added.

Since 2014, the two regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine have been the scene of a bloody conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces, who want the two regions, collectively known as Donbass, to secede.

The separatists have already declared the formation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis through supporting the separatists with weapons and troops. Moscow strongly denies the allegations.

In 2015, the two sides signed a ceasefire deal in the Belarus capital, Minsk, with French and German support. Nonetheless, both parties have on numerous occasions accused each other of violating the ceasefire. The UN says so far more than 13,000 people have been killed.

The armed confrontation began when a wave of protests in Ukraine overthrew a democratically-elected pro-Russia government and replaced it with a pro-West administration, butt the majority in Donabss refused to endorse the new administration.

The new government then began a crackdown on the mainly ethnic Russians in the southeast, who in turn took up arms and turned Donbass into a self-proclaimed republic.

Early this week, the Kremlin stressed that recent Russian troop and military hardware movements near Russia's borders with Ukraine were aimed at ensuring Moscow's own security and posed no threat to anyone.

Navalny case

Elsewhere in their conversation on Thursday, Putin and Merkel touched on the issue of Western-backed blogger Alexei Navalny and his alleged poisoning. Last week, the jailed Kremlin critic went on a hunger strike, demanding proper treatment for purported back pain and numbness in his legs.

His arrest sparked the talk of new EU sanctions, especially after Moscow expelled German, Polish, and Swedish diplomats for taking part in pro-Navalny protests last month.

Hostilities could end Ukraine: Official

On Thursday, deputy head of Russia's presidential administration Dmitry Kozak warned that major military hostilities in Donbass could mark the beginning of the end of Ukraine as a country.

He also stressed that Russia, under certain circumstances, could be forced to defend its citizens in eastern Ukraine.

"I support the assessment that ... the start of military action - this would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine," TASS news agency quoted Kozak as saying.

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