Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow supports the Minsk peace agreements ratified in February in Ukraine, but blamed Kiev for stalling the truce efforts.
"Russia is interested in and will strive to ensure the full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk Agreements," Putin told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Saturday, according to Reuters. He called the deal between the two countries “right, just and feasible.”
An uneasy ceasefire saw hostilities between warring factions in eastern Ukraine cool off for a few months, but a spate of fighting in recent weeks has thrown the peace accord into uncertainty. An unknown number of fighters were killed on Wednesday when clashes broke out between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia rebel forces in the Donetsk region.
Putin blamed the fresh hostilities on Kiev, saying that separatist forces had fulfilled their promise of withdrawing heavy weapons from the fight. "It is time to begin implementing the Minsk Agreements," Putin reportedly told the paper.
He called on Kiev to undertake constitutional reforms -- as part of the agreement -- that would allow the rebel breakaway regions in the country’s east to become autonomous, and implement municipal elections and amnesty.
"The problem is that the current Kiev authorities don't even want to sit down to talks with them. And there is nothing we can do about it," he reportedly said. "Only our European and American partners can influence this situation."
He also dismissed the worries of the European countries regarding Moscow as unfounded.
"As for some countries' concerns about Russia's possible aggressive actions, I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO," he said, Radio Free Europe reported, citing Corriere della Sera. "I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people's fears with regard to Russia," he added. "Let me tell you something - there is no need to fear Russia."
He called Kiev’s economic severance from the rebel territories a humanitarian crisis and urged the European Union to provide more financial relief to the region. "Since we are talking about what can or must be done, and by whom, I believe that the European Union could surely provide greater financial assistance to Ukraine," he reportedly said.
Moscow has maintained that Kiev has instigated the conflict, and that there are no Russian troops, except private forces, fighting in the country. It has defended the right of the breakaway regions, including the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, to secede from Ukraine.