MOSCOW, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian authorities should start talks on the state system in southeastern regions of the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday.
"Substantive, meaningful talks should be immediately launched on questions of society structure and state system in southeastern Ukraine to unconditionally guarantee the lawful interests of people who live there," Putin said on Russia's Channel One Television.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made a further clarification later that when Putin called on Kiev to start talks with the militia, he meant Ukrainian authorities' inclusive dialogue on the crisis settlement, not stressing the status of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the Interfax news agency reported.
Putin also stressed the need to immediately stop hostilities and start restoring infrastructure, such as "to replenish reserves, carry out necessary repair operations," in order to prepare for the cold winter.
The militia will react to Ukrainian government's military actions in any way but still wait for promised talks, according to Putin.
The president also suggested the western countries should think about "their own ideals" of democratic values when judging the situation in Ukraine.
Putin expressed his worries that settlement of the Ukraine crisis will not become reality any time soon, as participants in the coming Ukrainian parliamentary elections will take the crisis as a chance "to demonstrate how tough they are."
"Amid this flurry of political rivalry, it's hard to hope that people will clearly define their determination to seek peaceful, not military solutions. We are hoping for the better, nevertheless, " Putin said.
He added that settlement of the internal conflict can only be agreed upon by Kiev authorities and the insurgents, with interests of people living in the southeastern Ukraine being taken into account. The time span of the crisis "to a considerable extent depends on the political will of the current Ukrainian leadership, " Putin said.
It is reported that the fighting in eastern Ukraine has spread southward, near the border of the Sea of Azov and Russia.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that he was alarmed at the information, which might mark a "dangerous escalation" in the Ukrainian crisis.
MOSCOW, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Russia has handed over a total of 63 Ukrainian soldiers who crossed the border into Russian last week in exchange for all the Russian paratroopers detained in Ukraine, a paratroop commander said Sunday.
"The negotiations were difficult. But common sense prevailed and everything ended well," said Major General Alexei Ragozin, deputy commander of the Russian Airborne Forces. Full story
BRUSSELS, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) leaders decided early Sunday to give Russia one week to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, otherwise the bloc will impose tougher sanctions on Moscow, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told a news conference after a special summit in Brussels.
"The European Council says that it stands ready to take further significant steps in the light of the evolution of the situation on the ground and it requests the (European) Commission to urgently take preparatory work and present proposals for consideration within a week," Van Rompuy said. Full Story