Putin has criticized Ukraine’s coup-appointed government for using tanks and jets against its own people, during a live Q&A session. Branding Kiev’s approach as a “crime,” Putin said they must open dialogue with eastern Ukraine.
“Have they lost their minds?!” said Putin during his annual question and answer session. “They are deploying tanks, armored vehicles and weaponry! Against whom? Are they nuts?!"
The Russian president said he thought that asking activists in
the southeast of Ukraine to hand in their weapons was the right
approach, but this measure should also be applied to armed
Ukrainian nationalist groups.
Putin went on to say the crisis in Ukraine can only be solved through a compromise in the interests of the Ukrainian people.
“The coup-appointed government in Kiev needs to come to its senses before we can negotiate,” said Putin.
In spite of the fact the interim government is illegitimate, Russia is still prepared to open dialogue with them, said Putin. Ukraine’s interim government came to power on February 22 after weeks of violent protests on Kiev’s Independence Square. They ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and declared elections in May, something that violates the Ukrainian constitution.
NATO’s reinforcement of its presence in eastern Europe was also touched upon during Putin’s Q&A session. Head of Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselev, said that he felt like NATO was “suffocating him” and described the organization as “a cancerous tumor.”
Dmitry Kiselev was included in the list of Russian politicians who were hit by Western sanctions following the Crimean referendum that led to the region’s integration with Russia.
In a tongue-in-cheek response, Putin told Kiselev not to be afraid of NATO, assuring him that “Russia would suffocate everyone else.”
NATO has accused Russia of attempting to destabilize Ukraine, something that Russia categorically denied. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov told the press on Monday that Russia had no interest in promoting crisis in Ukraine, and the West needs to produce evidence to support its accusations.