Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised "drastic consequences for Ukraine's statehood as a whole" if there is an attempt to liberate Donbas, the Russian-occupied east of Ukraine.
"I hope such provocations will not take place, and if this happens, I think that this will have very drastic consequences for Ukrainian statehood as a whole. I want to emphasize once again that I hope nothing like this will happen," Putin said during the annual Direct Line show, answering a question whether the Ukrainian army may take advantage of the World Cup in Russia and liberate Donbas, an UNIAN correspondent in Russia has reported.
According to Putin, "it is impossible to intimidate people who live in these territories in Donbas – in the 'LPR' and 'DPR.' "We can see what has been happening there, how people are suffering, we help both unrecognized republics and will continue doing this," Putin said.
In his words, what is happening in those territories is "sad," and this shows that "the current Ukrainian leadership is unable to solve this problem."
"How can you solve this problem by considering these territories as your own and organizing a complete blockade there, consider people your citizens and subject them to shelling when civilians are suffering?" Putin said.
He once again blamed Ukraine for the "violation" of the Minsk agreements.
"Why should you do this if you just have to follow the Minsk agreements? It's just ridiculous from the point of view of the final result – the restoration of the territorial integrity of the country. The longer, the further this happens, the worse it is for Ukraine," Putin said.
He forecasts Ukraine is unable to solve the "problem of these territories" under the current government when there is one year is left before the parliament and president elections, as the Ukrainian authorities do not need voters from these territories.
"If the authorities are guided by their narrow selfish political and economic interests, if they continue to rob their people and save money for a rainy day in offshores for their own name, then this situation will not lead to anything good," he said.
"Let's see how the situation will develop. We will do everything for it to be resolved within the framework of the Minsk process and the Minsk agreements," Putin stressed.