18:08 GMT25 January 2021
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    Moscow does not seek to integrate the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk into Russia, according to the Kremlin spokesman.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Moscow does not plan to integrate the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics into Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

    "The question itself is absurd. For many years now both President [Vladimir] Putin and Russian representatives at various levels have said that Moscow does not try to integrate the unrecognized republics of Donbass, the DPR and LPR, into Russia," Peskov told reporters.

    "So such publications are naive and rather primitive news items," he said.

    Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday citing three sources close to Russia's leadership that Putin’s "real strategy in Ukraine is to fully separate the two border areas known as the Donbass through incremental integration with Russia".

    The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled 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.

    In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Despite the agreement brokered by the Normandy Four states (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine), the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.


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    Lugansk People's Republic, Donetsk People's Republic, Dmitry Peskov, Donbass, Russia
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