Putin might be making U-turn
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to take steps on Wednesday to pull Ukraine back from an escalating cycle of violence, declaring that Moscow has withdrawn its troops from the Ukrainian border, asking pro-Russian separatists to postpone a referendum on independence and indicating that he may be willing to recognize an election for Kiev's leaders.
“All of us are interested in settling this crisis, in settling it as soon as possible, accounting for the interests of all Ukrainian citizens irrespective of their place of residence,” Putin said, speaking in Moscow alongside Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, who is leading negotiations as chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Putin said Russian troops have been pulled back to their training grounds and locations for “regular exercises,” but he did not specify whether those locations were in areas near its border with Ukraine.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman declined to say where the troops were now positioned.
Putin's comments marked a significant shift in tone from the hard line that Russian officials have taken for months toward the acting government in Kiev, which assumed power when protesters made pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych flee in February.
But key questions remained over whether Putin's words would diffuse tensions.
NATO and Washington said they saw no indication of a Russian pullback, and the pro-Russia insurgents behind the referendum have not said whether they would go along with Putin's proposal.
According to Reuters, Denis Pushilin, a separatist leader in Donetsk, said, “We have the utmost respect for President Putin. If he considers that necessary, we will of course discuss it.''
Putin said that putting off the referendum about whether to establish independence from Kiev would help foster the “necessary conditions of dialogue” with the acting central government.
The Russian president described Ukraine's presidential election on May 25 as a step “in the right direction.” Kremlin officials had said they would consider the voting illegitimate if it were held in a climate of violence, while the West had warned against delay or disruption.
Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Putin of “talking through his hat.”
Ukrainian officials have tried to regain control over the east, largely without success, as many fear fresh violence on May 9, a holiday that marks the Nazi surrender.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Airstrikes against Islamic State fail to stop flow of jihadists into Syria
- Missing American siblings found dead in Mexico
- Activists’ families on hunger strike
- Burkina Faso’s parliament stormed by protesters
- Kerry admits American official’s use of barnyard vulgarity is ‘damaging’
- For more Asians, money delivers more happiness
- Israel limits prayers at Al-Aqsa site
- Malala donates prize money to rebuild Gaza school
- Coalition targets ideology of ISIS
- Libyan army holds triumphant parade in Benghazi
- Ukraine election cements pro-Western stance