Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the Ukrainian authorities of escalating the fresh bout of violence in the eastern part of the country, saying the Kiev government has resorted to such a ploy in order to rally support from the administration of US President Donald Trump and other Western powers.
“Ukrainian leadership today needs money, and the best way to squeeze out money from the European Union and certain countries of the European Union and the United States as well as international financial institutions is to present themselves as a victim of aggression,” Putin told reporters in Budapest on Thursday after a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Now they need to arrange their relations with the current (US) administration and it always works better through the conflict... It is easier to drag the current administration into solving Ukraine's problems and to arrange some dialogue this way,” he added, noting that the current Ukrainian leadership took a one-sided position during the US presidential election, and supported Democratic candidate and Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton.
The Russian leader went on to say that Kiev provoked flare-up in the country's east to deviate public opinion from the conspicuous failures in economy and social policies, muffle the opposition and mobilize the population around the incumbent government.
“I think that the current Ukrainian leadership is not ready to implement the Minsk agreements and is seeking for a cause not to fulfill them. The development of the conflict would also contribute to that. I truly hope that the forces of reason in Ukraine and also those who are interested in resolving these issues through political means will not allow for the situation in eastern Ukraine to develop in the worst scenario, but on the contrary will use all their powers to implement the Minsk agreements,” Putin said.
Nearly two dozen people have lost their lives since fighting broke out between Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed forces in eastern Ukraine over the weekend.
Two Ukrainian troops were killed and 10 others wounded early on Thursday, while pro-Moscow forces said one of their fighters was killed.
Ukraine’s Donbass region, where the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk are located, has witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since April 2014, when Kiev launched military operations to crush pro-Moscow protests there.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine and the March 2014 reintegration of the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula into the Russian Federation have pushed relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest level since the Cold War as the latter supports Kiev.
Despite the original Minsk agreement, which was reached in September 2014, as well as another deal also struck in the Belarusian capital in February 2015, the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russians have continued to trade fire along front lines.