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Луганская народная республика
"It is obvious that the militia has reached a considerable success in curbing Kyev’s military operation, that had been a deadly threat to the population of Donbass and already led to heavy casualties among civilians,” the Russian leader said in a statement.
As a result of militias’ counter-offense, large numbers of Ukrainian troops – many of whom were taking part in Kiev’s so-called anti-terrorist operation "against their will” and "just following orders” – have been surrounded, the President added.
"I urge the militias to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian troops that were surrounded, in order to avoid meaningless victims and provide them with the opportunity to freely withdraw from the battlefield area, to be reunited with their families, to return to their mothers, wives and children,” Putin said.
Ukrainian troops have been routinely crossing into Russian territory over the course of the conflict seeking refuge from militia, who were pushing them towards the border, or after negotiating a safe passage from an encirclement. On Wednesday alone over 60 Kyev troops crossed into Russia, bringing the total number of those who fled to safety to over 600 men.
After getting medical help, if needed, Kiev’s troops were allowed to freely return to Ukraine. Not all of the did, however, fearing prosecution, as the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office has launched over 1,000 investigations into those men on charges of disobedience, desertion and evasion of military service.
Russia in the meantime is ready and will provide aid to Ukraine’s regions suffering from a humanitarian disaster, the Russian leader added according to the Kremlin’s press service.
"Once again, I urge the Ukrainian authorities to immediately stop the fighting, stop the fire, sit down at the negotiating table with representatives of the Donbass, to solve all the accumulated problems peacefully,” he said.
The Russian president’s call for a humanitarian corridor comes hours after the UN Security Council blocked a Russia proposed statement on a mutual ceasefire and peace talks in Ukraine – and just minutes after US President Barack Obama blasted at Russia and threatened it with more sanctions over its purportedly "direct role” in the Ukrainian crisis.