Russian President Vladimir Putin is once again fueling Western ire by pushing for a negotiated settlement of the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, calling in the rebels to allow troops to flee the area and calling on Ukraine’s government to enter into negotiations on a final settlement deal.
Even the proposal for talks was subject to considerable spin, for while Putin focused on a call for greater autonomy for the ethnic Russian east, the coverage mostly presented it as a demand for independence.
After the coverage, Russian officials reiterated that they aren’t pushing full sovereignty for eastern Ukraine, but simply increases in the region’s autonomy, as part of an ongoing push for Ukraine to adopt federalism.
Rebel Deputy PM Andrei Purgin confirmed he is en route to Belarus for the preliminary talks on such negotiations. So far, the Ukrainian government has refused any direct negotiations with the rebels, and has been demanding an unconditional surrender and disarmament before they consider any rebel pushes for reform.