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'Colossal Mistake': Kiev's Aggression Stalls Donbass Reconciliation – Putin

© Images / Andrew BurtonA man salvages cinder blocks from a destroyed building on February 25, 2015 in Debaltseve, Ukraine
A man salvages cinder blocks from a destroyed building on February 25, 2015 in Debaltseve, Ukraine - Sputnik International
Kiev's aggressive policy towards Donbass was a colossal mistake, the Russian President said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Kiev government’s aggressive behavior in eastern Ukraine stalls all reconciliation attempts, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised Q&A session Thursday.

“I think this was a colossal mistake, and such moves bring the situation into a deadlock.”

In April 2014 Kiev launched a military operation in Donbas to suppress local independence supporters who refused to recognize the coup-imposed central government. According to the UN estimates, the conflict claimed over 6,000 lives and displaced more than a million people. It also brought Donbass to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe with people there struggling without basic necessities.

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As the crisis in Ukraine escalated, Russia continued to participate in international efforts aimed at bringing the conflict to an end.

In mid-February, at a Normandy Format meeting in the Belarusian capital, the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine elaborated a new Minsk deal, a 13-point plan aimed at facilitating Ukrainian reconciliation process.

The measures included a ceasefire that entered into force on February 15, the pullout of heavy arms from the contact line between Kiev and Donbass militias, an all-for-all prisoner exchange and certain amendments to Ukrainian constitution. At a Normandy Format talks in Berlin in April, the foreign ministers of the participating states confirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreement.

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However, since the establishment of the truce, the sides repeatedly accused each other of violating it, with leaders of Donbass militias stating that Kiev was using the ceasefire to prepare for a new advance.

On Tuesday, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko said that Kiev had moved more than 100 pieces of military equipment closer to the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

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