According to him, overall there “has been a significant decrease in militant activity” in the Donbass area. At the same time, the head of the state has no doubt that Western countries are supplying weapons to Ukraine.
“I am deeply convinced that if someone is supplying weapons to a conflict zone – it is always a bad idea; but in this particular case whoever is supplying weapons – the number of victims can certainly increase – but the result will be the same as it is today,”- said the head of the state. He explained such outcome by the fact that the majority of Ukrainian military personnel do not want to “participate in a fratricidal war”, while the rebel fighters “have a great motivation to protect their families.”
Putin reiterated his opinion that the conflict is impossible to resolve by military means. “It can only be resolved by diplomatic means, only by negotiating with a part of your country and ensuring their legal rights,” – he said, noting that otherwise the crisis “will never end.” At the same time, he said that he is “rather optimistic” on the issue of implementation of Minsk agreements. “Across the line of contact it is more or less silent, and now we have to resolve the problem associated with the encircled troops”, – he said.
The President noted that the worsening of the situation in Debaltseve was inevitable. “Those who are inside the ring will try to escape, there will be attempts from the outside to unblock them, while rebel fighters, which are keeping the Ukrainian military units inside this ring, will try to resist. This will inevitably lead to the fact that, one way or another, there will be occasional clashes,”- explained Putin, calling on the Ukrainian authorities “not to interfere with the military in laying down their arms.”
Fighting continues in Debaltseve despite the ceasefire provided in the Minsk Agreement. On February 17, rebel fighters announced the closure of the so-called kettle and the capture of 120 Ukrainian soldiers. The town is considered a strategically important location for the Ukrainian military – it is located on the M04 highway, which connects Donetsk with Lugansk.