17:48 GMT13 June 2021
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    Speaking before Ukrainian troops and the residents of the city of Mariupol in the Kiev-controlled part of Donbass, President Petro Poroshenko said that "Ukrainian occupation is temporary," sending social media abuzz.

    "Dear compatriots! The Ukrainian occupation is temporary. We will certainly reunite. Ukraine is indivisible. Glory to Ukraine," he said meaning those in the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

    It remains unclear whether the "occupation" remark was a mere blooper as the video of the speech was uploaded on the president's official Facebook account [the "occupation" part starts at 19:36]. Social media users could not let this phrase pass unnoticed, arguing whether it was just a Freudian slip or acknowledgement of Kiev's destructive approach to the breakaway regions.

    The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

    But not by shells and bullets alone. In summer 2014, Kiev stopped paying pensions, salaries and wages to the residents of the Donbass republics. In November 2014, Poroshenko signed the Ukrainian Security Council's decision to withdraw state-sponsored institutions from the regions and halt banks' ability to operate there.

    Donetsk and Lugansk residents branded it as genocide and economic blockade choking the local population including retirees and children. 

    In spring 2015, the governments of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics started paying pensions, salaries and wages on their own, taking on social obligations.

    With Donbass independence supporters considering Ukrainian troops as occupants, and Kiev's short-sighted aggressive policy of trying to rebuild burned bridges through violence and economic restrictions (stick-and-stick approach, so to speak), Poroshenko's words may not raise too many eyebrows.

    In his trip to the Donbass conflict zone, the Ukrainian leader was accompanied by a group of US senators: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar.

    ​Poroshenko presented McCain, who has been a top cheerleader for supplying Kiev with lethal arms, with a domestically created assault rifle; however, Lenta.ru argued the weapon is in essence a clone of the Israeli TAR-21, and some of its components are manufactured in the Middle-Eastern country.

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