After the situation in the Donbas worsened, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a telephone conversation on the matter on Thursday. The Russian leader accused Ukraine of “provocative actions”, the German politician demanded that Russia reduce the number of its troops in the vicinity of Donbas. The deputy head of the Kremlin administration, Dmitry Kozak, stated that Russia would be forced to defend its citizens in Donbas to an extent depending on the scale of the possible conflict.
The fights between Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, which have been going on since 2014, have so far claimed – as it is estimated – over 13,000 deaths.
On Thursday, the Operations Staff of the Joint Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that from the beginning of the day until At 7 a.m. in Donbas, Russia-backed separatists violated the truce in force since July five times.
After reports of tense situation in Donbas on Thursday President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky decided to personally visit the conflict zone in the east of the country.
Putin’s telephone conversation with Merkel
On Thursday, a telephone conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin was held on the situation in Donbas. The Kremlin said after the conversation that leaders expressed concern about the escalation of the situation in the Donbas.
According to this report, the Russian president accused Ukraine of “provocative actions” in the Donbas. He announced that the Ukrainian side “deliberately aggravates the situation” on the line between the fighting forces. He repeated Russia’s assessment that the Ukrainian authorities should hold talks with separatists and grant special status to the areas of eastern Ukraine under their control.
The German government said after the leaders’ talks that Merkel had requested Putin to reduce the number of its troops around Ukraine in order to ease tensions in the region.
Kremlin: we will have to defend Russian citizens in the Donbas depending on the scale of the conflict
Dmitry Kozak, deputy head of the administration of the Russian president, said on Thursday that “Russia will be forced to stand up for its citizens in Donbas depending on the scale of the possible conflict.” – It all depends on the scale of the fire. If it is organized there, as our president, Srebrenica says, then we will have to stand up for (Russian citizens – ed.) – he said.
In the past, Vladimir Putin maintained that if Ukrainian forces took control of the Ukrainian-Russian border in Donbas, there would be “Srebrenica”, a massacre of civilians.
Kozak, who in Putin’s administration deals with the Kremlin’s policy towards the countries of the former Soviet Union, assessed that the forces of pro-Russian separatists “are quite seasoned and able to stop the attack”. “So it all depends on the other side,” he added.
Kozak: the commencement of combat operations by the Ukrainian forces would be a shot not in the foot, but in one’s own temple
The Kremlin representative expressed the conviction that the commencement of combat operations in Donbas by the Ukrainian forces would be “the beginning of the end of Ukraine, a shot – not in the foot, but in one’s own temple.”
At the same time, he assessed that Ukraine “has rather no real intention to start a full-scale war”. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the Donbass on Thursday will not, according to Kozak, aggravate the situation. He called the visit an element of “information work” and pointed to Zelensky’s right to “travel all over the territory of Ukraine”.
Kozak assured that Russia does not intend to deprive Ukraine of sovereignty, because – in his opinion – Moscow wants to have a “friendly, peaceful and stable state” at its borders.
Putin’s associate also said that there should be no public discussions about moving talks about the Donbas conflict from Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to another country.
Main photo source: Reuters