Vladimir Putin assures the paratroopers captured in Ukraine were there by accident.
The Russian president arrived in Tver region on Friday to visit the 10th Russian youth forum Seliger 2014. He talked to participants of the forum and answered several question about the country's inner structure and its foreign policy. He also touched on the Ukrainian crisis.
Vladimir Putin commented on the information about captured Russian paratroopers in the Donbas region. According to the Russian president, they were in Ukraine by accident. “This is true. I am serious. I believe they were lost, because the border is not marked there,” Putin said.
According to him, the soldiers were to return home, BBC reports. “We talked about it with Petro Poroshenko. He assured me the Russian soldiers would be returned to Russia in the same way as we returned and continue to return Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.
According to the Russian president, the command of the Ukrainian army chose not to use the humanitarian corridor that separatists promised to open. “I think this is a huge mistake that will lead to many casualties,” Putin noted. He again called on Kyiv to began talks with militants.
Speaking about actions by Ukrainian troops in south-eastern Ukraine, the Russian president compared them with the tactic of the fascist troops in the USSR during the World War II. “It's sad, but it resembles me the events of the Second World War, when fascists occupants laid siege to our cities, for example Leningrad, and shelled them and their residents,” Putin said. “Do you see what we have? It's terrible. It's a catastrophe,” he added.
According to him “both small towns and bigger cities are now surrounded by the Ukrainian army that shells residential quarters to destroy infrastructure and break the spirit of defenders”.
The Russian president explained the sense of the “military-humanitarian” operation held by representatives of the DNR and the LNR in eastern Ukraine. “I can understand militants of the south-east, of Donbas and Luhansk who call this operation military-humanitarian. The sense of their today's action is to pull artillery and missile systems away from big cities so that they couldn't kill people,” Putin said.
Putin noted the current events in Ukraine's south-east could have happened in spring in Crimea that became a part of Russia. He again emphasised Russia had not annexed Crimea but only defended it. “We didn't seize it, we didn't annex it. We gave people an opportunity to express their position and take it with respect,” the president of Russia said.
The Ministry of Defence of Russia earlier said in a statement that the Russian paratroopers appeared in Ukraine by mistake.