On Monday, President V V Putin cautioned the Ukrainian junta against laying the blame for its military defeats in Novorossiya on Russia, saying on TV, “It’s extremely bad that they’re both trying to justify their defeat and blame Russia for it. However, the worst thing is that they’re trying to take a stand-off between the Ukraine and Russia to a higher level”. This comment comes amidst increased accusations from Kiev and from the West that Russia aided the VSN in Novorossiya to make territorial gains, specifically around the strategic rail hub of Debaltsevo. The town was a hotly contested area for days before the VSN encircled and trapped junta militants there last week. Putin also said, “If they implement the Minsk accords, I believe that the situation [in Novorossiya] will gradually normalise”. He emphasised that Europe and Russia were equally interested in a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, adding, “No one needs a conflict on the edge of Europe, especially an armed one”. He noted that there’s no need for a third round of Minsk peace talks yet, and called everyone to focus on implementing the 12 February ceasefire deal, saying, “There’s no need for this yet… to take any urgent measures… because these Minsk agreements, they aren’t just a document outlined by four negotiators in the Minsk process, namely, the Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany, they’re enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution and have become an act of international law effectively endorsed by the entire international community”.
23 February 2015