The sooner the parties to the Minsk agreements implement the requirement obliging them to cease fire and to withdraw their hardware, the sooner they will create real prerequisites for political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after Russian-Hungarian talks in Budapest on Wednesday.
Putin pointed out a significant decline in combat activity. He said that last time when President Poroshenko decided first to resume combat actions and then to stop them, he failed to do it at once. “But today the number of mutual shootings has significantly decreased,” Putin said.
Concerning the situation in Debaltsevo, he said that what is going on there could be explained and predicted because a week before the meeting in Minsk, an Ukrainian force grouping was encircled there. “During that meeting I said that they would try to get out of the encirclement, those outside would try to break it, while the self-defenders would resist. So, the skirmishes will continue for a while,” the Russian president said.
He expressed hope that the Ukrainian authorities will not prevent Ukrainian soldiers from laying down arms and even if they are not able to make such a responsible decision and to give such an order, they will not persecute people who are ready to do it. “On the other hand, I hope that the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic will let those people to leave the conflict zone and to go back to their families,” Putin said.