Press-releases of the Embassy

Answers to journalists questions following visit of the President of Russia to Italy

October 17, 2014, 21:00, Milan

QUESTION: Mr President, today you had several meetings on the sidelines of the summit. How do you assess the results of those meetings? We know you discussed Ukraine; what can we expect next?

Also, a question concerning the Ukrainian gas issue. Mr Poroshenko stated that you were able to reach certain agreements, and then added that you were not able to do so in all areas. Could you tell us about these talks in more detail?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, it is true that we spent a great deal of time discussing the Ukrainian problem, or rather, Ukrainian problems, as there are many of them. We talked about issues of security, a full ceasefire and disengaging the conflicting parties. We almost went as far as comparing our positions on maps. Although here, of course, we need first and foremost to rely on the opinion of experts and participants in the negotiations, and Russia, as you know, is not a participant; we can only help the conflicting parties resolve the problems that emerged earlier.

I would like to draw attention to the following. First, I agree with my colleagues that the Minsk agreements should serve as the benchmark in the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. I want to note that these agreements, unfortunately, are not being fully fulfilled by either side. In other words, neither representatives of the Novorossiya self-defence forces nor Ukrainian representatives are currently complying with the agreements fully for a range of reasons. These include both objective and subjective reasons. However, I believe that all sides will strive to fully carry out these agreements.

Second, the line of demarcation should be finalised and implemented. That is precisely what will provide the opportunity to fully end shelling and the killing of peaceful, innocent people. This needs to be done as quickly as possible.

I have said that there are objective and subjective issues. For example, the self-defence forces were supposed to leave certain towns, but it turns out that some of the fighters in fact come from those towns. They say, We cannot leave because our families our wives and children live there. This seems like a subjective matter, but it is very serious. So it cannot be ignored. The Ukrainian side is aware of these problems. We will try to help, mediate and seek acceptable solutions.

The same is true of other places where members of the Ukrainian armed forces are still present, and in accordance with the Minsk agreements, they should have left, but they are not leaving yet. That is the first part.

The second part of the problem has to do with the law that was recently signed by the President of Ukraine. I know the reaction and opinions expressed by Novorossiya representatives. I suppose this is not an ideal document, but ultimately, it is a step in the right direction, and we count on it to also be used for a final solution to security problems.

There are some issues with monitoring the demarcation line. And here, we have made rather good progress, in my view, because we agreed that we will use unmanned aerial vehicles, modern equipment that allows us to determine the location of strikes, if they occur.

As far as the drones are concerned, Italy, France, and Germany have expressed willingness to work together on this, and Russia is participating as well. Experts will need to gather soon in Vienna within the OSCE framework and work out the technical issues. This is roughly the set of problems that we discussed with regard to security.

As for the gas-related problems you mentioned, yes, we gave a lot of attention to these issues, and made progress here as well. That progress pertains to our agreement with our Ukrainian partners on the conditions for renewing gas supplies to Ukraine (at least for the winter period) and on all the parameters for this agreement.

It is an issue of the National Joint Stock Company Nadra Ukraynys cash shortage. These are objective circumstances. Russia cannot take on any additional risks. The problem is that, as you know, we issued Ukraine a loan at the end of last year worth 3 billion dollars. According to our assessments, Ukraine owes 4.5 billion dollars for gas that has already been supplied but not paid for. Gazprom transitioned to a prepayment model and, in accordance with the contract, can no longer change the conditions of the supplies.

We understand our Ukrainian partners financial situation; we see that they truly do have problems and that they have a cash shortage. We also, once again, met them halfway to a certain degree regarding the conditions and volume of payments for the gas supplied earlier, in other words, on their debts, and expect that here, our European partners, the European Commission, will also help and, in my view, should even give Ukraine a boostand help resolve this cash shortage problem. There are certain instruments: either a bridge loan, or carrying over another IMF tranche, or a first class guarantee from the European Bank.