Vladimir Putin addressed to pro-Russian separatists (in his words – ‘militia’) who have been fighting against Ukraine’s government forces in the east of the country.
‘It is clear the militia has achieved a major success in intercepting Kiev’s military operation, which represents a grave danger to the population of Donbass and which has already led to the loss of many lives among peaceful residents,’ Mr Putin admits in his address.
The Russian President called on the militia groups to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian service members who have been surrounded, so as ‘to avoid any needless loss of life, giving them the opportunity to leave the combat area unimpeded and reunite with their families, to return them to their mothers, wives and children, and to quickly provide medical assistance to those who were injured in the course of the military operation’.
‘Putin asks DPR to create a corridor for encircled Ukrainian military. The man is talking to himself,’ Russian journalist, ex-BBC author Leonid Ragozin said on Twitter.
Hours later, Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the main rebel entity in eastern Ukraine, told a Russian television station his forces were ready to let the encircled Ukrainian troops pull out.