Putin calls for talks between pro-Russian rebels and Kyiv

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Putin calls for talks between pro-Russian rebels and Kyiv

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for dialogue between pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and the government in Kyiv to protect people living near the conflict zone.

“Substantive, meaningful talks, concerning not only technical issues but also relating to the issues of the society’s political organisation and statehood in southeastern Ukraine, should begin immediately,” said Putin, “to protect legitimate interests of people living there.”

A Kremlin spokesman clarified Putin does not want a separate state in the region and called the conflict a domestic one inside Ukraine.

Putin said his meeting last week with President Petro Poroshenko was “good” and called the Ukrainian president a “partner with whom it is possible to have a dialogue.”

On Saturday the Lithuanian president called on Europe to supply military equipment to Kyiv.

“I think the situation is getting worse. Russia is in open and direct involvement, and is in a state of war against Ukraine,” said Dalia Grybauskaite.

“And, it is clear,” she continued. “This means – against a country which would like to be closer with Europe, which means that Russia is practically in a state of war against Europe.”

She added that an arms embargo on Russia should be stepped up by stopping sales under existing contracts.

EU officials who met in Brussels on Saturday are set to draw up proposals for fresh sanctions within a week.