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War to drag on with Ukraine’s pro-Westerners in power: Putin

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting with France's President Emmanuel Macron (out of frame) on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 30, 2018. (AFP photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that there would be no end to the conflict in Ukraine as long as the country is run by a set of pro-Western politicians.

Putin told reporters at the end of the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday that the current Ukrainian administration was not interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the country.

“The current Ukrainian authorities have no interest in resolving the conflict, especially by peaceful means,” he told a press conference, adding, “As long as they remain in power, the war will continue.”

The Russian president was also adamant that international efforts for the release of a group of Ukrainian sailors captured by Moscow in the Sea of Azov last month were all doomed to fail because he said their fate were not up for discussion.

Tensions over Ukraine escalated on November 25 when Russian border patrols fired at three Ukrainian ships and then seized them along with their sailors because of illegal entry into Russian waters.

The incident took place in the Kerch Strait near Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory on the Black Sea that joined Russia in a referendum in March 2014 following the political developments in Kiev that led to the rise of a pro-Western government at the expense of a Russia-backed president.

The recent military confrontation sparked a fresh row between Russia and the United States and even forced US President Donald Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

US President Donald Trump (R) looks at Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they take their places for a family photo, during the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 30, 2018. (AFP photo)

Putin told reporters in Buenos Aires that he would accept no precondition for the meeting to be reinstated, including the release of the three Ukrainian ships and the sailors.

Washington and allies in Europe have slapped rounds of economic and security sanctions on Russia over the so-called annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s alleged interference in Ukraine, especially in two eastern provinces where pro-Russia groups have been battling the Ukrainian military forces for the past four years.

Russia has downplayed the sanctions as insignificant while denying West’s accusation of support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. However, Moscow insists it will intervene militarily if it feels Kiev is suppressing the ethnic Russian population living in areas close to the Russian border.

Oil supply cuts to continue

In his remarks at the G20 summit, Putin also touched upon the issue of global oil supply, saying his country had agreed with the other main global supplier Saudi Arabia to renew cuts on production and export in a bid to push prices up.

“We are going to survey together the market situation with Saudi Arabia and respond to it operationally,” Putin said, adding, however, that he could not offer any concrete figures on possible output cut that will be finalized in a global oil carter meeting in Vienna this week. 

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