Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council Rashid Nurgaliyev and permanent member of the Security Council Boris Gryzlov.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We are witnessing a dramatic deterioration of the situation in southeastern Ukraine, in Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic. In this connection I would like to inform you again that a week ago, on Thursday, I sent a letter to the President of Ukraine, a written proposal to withdraw heavy weapons – artillery and multiple rocket launchers – to such a distance from which it would be impossible to fire at populated areas.
I would like to inform you further that this proposal almost completely coincided with the requirements of the official Kiev. You know that there may be one disputed area along the line of separation between the parties to the conflict. So we suggested that weapons and heavy equipment should be withdrawn to the line that Kiev authorities themselves consider fair and corresponding to the agreements reached in Minsk on September 19, 2014.
Unfortunately, we received no clear answer to our proposal; in fact, we also saw the reverse action, namely the Kiev government has given an official order to launch large-scale combat operations along almost the entire perimeter of contact between the opposing sides.
The result: dozens of dead and wounded, and not only among servicemen on both sides, but, even more tragically, there has been loss of life among the civilian population, including children, the elderly and women. The artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft are firing indiscriminately, directly at densely populated areas.
All of this is happening to the accompaniment of propaganda slogans about the quest for peace and the search for those responsible. The responsibility is borne by those who issue such criminal orders. The people who do this should know that there is no other way to solve such conflicts but through peace negotiations and political means. We often hear, including from today’s official Kiev, that this is their preferred method of addressing issues, but the reality is quite different. I hope that common sense will eventually triumph.
I would like to call for a moment of silence to honour the victims, including those who died at a bus stop in Donetsk.
(Moment of silence.)