Putin: Moscow won’t let pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine be defeated, urged pullback

Moscow will not allow the defeat of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned, arguing that both sides need to make concessions for a floundering peace deal to succeed.

MOSCOW — Moscow will not allow the defeat of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned, arguing that both sides need to make concessions for a floundering peace deal to succeed.

Putin’s statement in an interview with German ARD television came as European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss a response to the continuing fighting in Ukraine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the conflict was not just about Ukraine but about peace across Europe.

In the interview broadcast late Sunday, Putin said he still believes in the success of peace efforts in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels have been battling Kyiv’s troops in a conflict that has claimed more than 4,000 lives.

The Russian leader blamed the fighting on the failure by both the rebels and Ukrainian troops to pull back from the front line — a key requirement under a September cease-fire.

In the rebel-held stronghold of Donetsk, officials said Monday that one civilian had been killed and eight injured in fighting over the weekend. The pound of artillery fire could be heard in the city throughout the morning.

After Ukraine announced Friday that it would suspend banking services in rebel-held areas, Donetsk residents huddled outside banks Monday, waiting to withdraw their dwindling cash.

On the Ukrainian side, six troops were killed and nine wounded in clashes Sunday, according to the Ukrainian National Security Council. Unidentified attackers also killed three traffic police, it said.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied claims by Ukraine and the West that Moscow has been fueling the rebellion with troops and weapons. Putin dodged the question in the ARD interview, saying “in today’s world, anyone waging a fight that they believe fair will always find weapons.”

He accused the West of turning a blind eye to Ukraine’s use of heavy weapons against residential areas in rebel-held areas.

“You want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents?” he said. “Is that what you want? We certainly don’t. And we won’t let it happen.”

At a meeting Monday in Brussels, European Union foreign ministers mulled the possibility of further sanctions against Moscow for its actions regarding Ukraine. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, said more sanctions against Russia would not be effective and the EU should focus instead on encouraging meaningful reforms in Kyiv.

But Merkel, speaking in Sydney after the G-20 summit in Australia, struck a more defiant note, saying sanctions would remain in place “as far and long as they are needed.”

Merkel said Russia’s annexation of Crimea “calls into question the horror of two World Wars and, after the end of the Cold War, Europe’s framework of peace.”

“Who would have thought that, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, after the end of the Cold War and the end of the world’s separation into two blocks, something like this could have happened in the middle of Europe?” Merkel said. “Old ways of thinking in spheres of influence, which spurn international law, must not become accepted.”

The German leader warned that regional conflicts like the one raging in eastern Ukraine “can very quickly broaden to major fires.”

“It’s not only about Ukraine. It’s about Moldova, it’s about Georgia, if it continues like this … one has to wonder about Serbia, one has to wonder about the countries in the western Balkans,” Merkel said.

World leaders at the G-20 summit roundly criticized Putin over Russia’s escalating aggression in Ukraine, but came up with no clear plan for increasing the diplomatic pressure on him.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer teacher engages students with “cool” science experiments

On Thursday, he made fire dance to the beat of the music

Province purchases land for new Red Deer courthouse

Construction to begin in the fall of 2019

Parking costs in Red Deer are going up — so are parking tickets

City council raises parking rates by 25 per cent starting July 1

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates in Red Deer

Three people vying to be the leader of the Alberta Party were… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month