19 December 2019
A question from a Ukrainian journalist, who asks if Russia “will disband occupational administrations” in the self-proclaimed republics, referring to the governments of the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.
Putin says the Ukrainian government itself was willing to see leaders of the republics as legitimate authorities when the Minsk Agreement was signed, but refused to talk to them directly later. He says Kiev should take responsibility for its own actions like the use of warplanes against the militias and civilians, the economic blockade it imposed and others and start an earnest attempt to reintegrate the rebellious regions.
A question about Ukraine and aftermath of the Normandy Four talks in France.
Putin says he is reluctant to voice his personal opinions about foreign leaders like Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, even after they retire. As for the peace process, a statement by Zelensky that the Minsk peace agreement should be revised is concerning, Putin said. The Minsk deal is the core of the reconciliation process, but the new Ukrainian government seems to be taking the same stances as the one before it.
There is no permanent autonomy enshrined in Ukrainian constitution for the breakaway regions, no direct talks between Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in the east. But there is progress in curbing violence and disengaging troops. So there is hope and diplomacy should continue.
The first question about international relations is about the doping scandal and WADA’s decision to suspend Russia from international competitions for four years and how Russian athletes are the party most hurt by the stand-off.
Putin says the WADA decision was unfair and contrary to both the law and common sense. It essentially punishes Russia for a second time for the same alleged misdeeds. The sanctions are also a form of collective punishment. Our teen figure skaters can do what nobody else can do – and WADA’s decision simply bars them from wining.
The decision is apparently biased due to political motives, Putin said.
Here comes another regular topic for Putin’s pressers – the state of healthcare in Russian regions.