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Reunification with Russia probably should have happened sooner, president tells soldiers’ mothers

The Donbas republics probably should have joined Russia earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday during a meeting with the mothers of soldiers involved in the military operation in Ukraine. In such a case, fewer lives would have been lost, the president pointed out.

“There might not have been so many civilian casualties, there wouldn’t have been so many children killed,” suggested the Russian leader. He argued, however, that in 2014 Russia did not have a full understanding of the situation in Donbass or the true feelings of the residents.

“[We] believed that we might still be able to reach an agreement and … reunite Donetsk and Luhansk with Ukraine within the framework … of the Minsk agreements”, Putin noted, adding that Russia was “really working in that direction.”

Commenting further on the matter, the president blamed the 2014 coup in Kyiv for the ensuing crisis in the Donbass and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “If not for the coup in Ukraine in 2014, no [of this] would have happened, he said.

Negotiated by Germany and France, the Minsk Accords were first signed in 2014 following the ousting of then-President Viktor Yanukovych, which plunged Ukraine into conflict between the post-coup government in Kyiv and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Subsequently becoming the respective people’s republics, the territories declared their independence from Ukraine in the same year.

The agreements aimed to give the Donetsk and Lugansk regions a special status within the Ukrainian state. Yet their implementation has been blocked – something Moscow has repeatedly blamed kyiv for. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kyiv’s main goal was to use the deal to buy time and “to create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbas republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. On February 24, Russia sent troops to Ukraine, citing kyiv’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements. Putin then spoke of the need to protect the Russian-speaking population of Donbass.

This fall, four former Ukrainian territories, the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye, were integrated into Russia following referendums.

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Putin expresses regret for Donbass — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union

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