18 Mar 2022 19:50

Russia's Medinsky: Donbas people themselves should decide how to govern territories where they live

MOSCOW. March 18 (Interfax) - The people of Donbas should make their own decision on how to govern the territories where they live, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, who heads Russia's delegation to the talks with Ukraine, told reporters on Friday.

"Indeed, the issue of governance in Donbas, in these territories is a key point of the [Russia-Ukraine] talks. But, to be honest, our opinions on it differ. The Ukrainian side believes that the issue of governance in this territory should be decided in a centralized manner in Kyiv. We, for our part, believe that the issue of governance should be decided by the people of Donbas. Eight years ago, the people of Donbas expressed their opinion on this score. Since then, for the past eight years, they, in actual fact, had to wage a war to defend their own decisions," Medinsky said.

International organizations' official estimates alone put the number of civilians who died in Donbas over this period at nearly 14,000, "not counting the huge number of people with weapons in their hands," he said.

The Russian side wants "power to belong to people," Medinsky said.

"What does democracy mean? It is the rule of the people, for the people and in the name of the people. That's why, our approaches are like that. We continue looking for a position in this regard," he said.

Russia's position on Donbas is clear-cut and Moscow will not back down from it, Medinsky said.

"The thing is that our position is very clear, it has been articulated by the president [Russian President Vladimir Putin] many times, and it has been supported by our entire country. We cannot back down from it," he said.