Putin: Military Operations In Southeast Ukraine Must Stop Immediately
June 8, 2014 • 10:56AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in answers to questions with reporters in France after his meeting with now-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, stressed, repeatedly, that before anything else can be done in southeast Ukraine, the military operation against the population must be stopped. "I fully welcome Mr. Poroshenko's position that the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine must cease immediately," he said.

"I once again stressed that it's not Russia and Ukraine who should be the parties involved in talks on this matter," he went on, "but rather the Kiev authorities and representatives from among the those who favor federalism in the East." If that happens, he said, "then we will create the conditions to develop our relations in other areas, including economic relations."

Putin returned to this these when he was asked about the possibility of a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. "I think this needs to be done immediately," he said, "the counterterrorism operation in southeast Ukraine must be stopped immediately. This is the only way to create the conditions necessary to launch real negotiations with the supporters of federalization."

On the economic side of the matter, Putin said that, during his meetings with his U.K., French and German counterparts, if the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine is signed, Russia will be forced to take steps to protect its economy. He pointed out that right now, there are zero tariffs on goods traded within the CIS. If that condition is maintained after Ukraine signs the agreement with the EU, "then all European goods will enter our customs territory via transit, which we cannot allow, and we did not agree to that with Europe."

Putin may, indeed, be forced to take action, as Poroshenko, during his inaugural speech in Kiev, declared his intention to sign the EU association agreement.