Serhiy Korsunsky, the Director of Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy under Ukraine's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Turkey, has said Russia is trying to swap Donbas for Crimea and wants to create a permanent tool of influence on Ukraine in the east of the country.

Read alsoPutin to seek to "swap" Crimea for Donbas after elected for new term – analystSpeaking about the goal pursued by Russia in the ongoing conflict in the east of Ukraine, Korsunsky said in Kyiv on Monday, February 12, during a panel discussion on the Donbas conflict in 2018: "It has a goal: to try to swap Donbas for Crimea, to make Americans speak with Russia somehow differently from the way they speak now and, of course, to solve the main issue, i.e. to get a permanent tool of influence on Ukraine."

"It seems to me when we talk about Donbas, we should distinguish that it is a 100% external conflict for Russia, as it has an external dimension. In no way, it (Russia) seeks to address certain domestic problems or once again boost Putin's ratings to 'incredible heights,'" he said.

Видео дня

"The situation for Ukraine is absolutely opposite. It is an internal problem. Trying to return Donbas, we do not solve any external problems, we are trying to address our internal situation," the diplomat said.

UNIAN memo. After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014, Ukraine's east was seized by Russian-backed militants, and on April 15, 2014, the Ukrainian government had to launch its first formal military action against the militants who had seized government buildings in towns and cities across eastern Ukraine. Less than a month later, separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence after unrecognized referendums.