President Vladimir Putin says Russia will not sever diplomatic relations with Ukraine, despite a recent attempt by the Ukrainian military to carry out an incursion into Crimea.
Putin arrived in Crimea on Friday, days after Russia said it had thwarted an incursion by the Ukrainian military into the peninsula. Kiev denies the allegation.
“We are not going to cut (diplomatic) ties despite the unwillingness of the current authorities in Kiev to have fully-fledged diplomatic ties at ambassador level. We will nonetheless create the possibilities for contacts to develop,” Putin said.
“I hope that this (the incursion) won’t be a final choice … and that common sense will prevail.”
The Russian president, who was chairing a meeting of the Security Council of Crimea, also stated that that Moscow would discuss measures to boost security in Crimea.
People in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for rejoining the Russian Federation in a referendum in March 2014. The West branded the move as Moscow’s annexation of the territory. The United States and its allies in Europe accuse Moscow of having a hand in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia, however, strongly denies the charges.
The Friday visit by Putin was the fifth since the Crimea referendum.
In April 2014, the government in Kiev launched the first round of its military operations in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are populated mostly by pro-Russians, to crush anti-government protests there. The operations, however, led to deadly clashes between the two sides.
The crisis in eastern Ukraine has left nearly 9,500 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.
Despite ceasefire efforts, sporadic fighting continues to claim more lives.