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Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed an internationally-administered referendum to be held in the war-torn areas of East Ukraine in a bid to end the conflict. The Ukrainian government reacted with fear that Russia would be allowed to cement its illicit gains in Donbass.
Vladimir Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to Donald Trump at their summit this week to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday.
Putin’s proposal would call for a vote conducted under international auspices by the residents of the separatist territories on their status, the people said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the details of what Putin said about Ukraine at the summit, saying only, “Some new ideas were discussed. They will be worked on” reported Bloomberg.
If a referendum was held in rebel areas of eastern Ukraine, “the result would be the same as in Crimea,” which voted to join Russia, Igor Plotnitsky, who was then leader of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic, told Russian state-run RIA Novosti news service in March last year.
Putin tells diplomats he pitched east Ukraine referendum plan to Trump at their summit | The Japan Times https://t.co/akbatQAE8k
— Cheryl Amber Dotson (@GODZILLASLAYS65) July 20, 2018
The Kyiv Post wrote in response, Never mind that this is a conflict that Putin created with his military invasion of Ukraine. Anytime Putin offers to solve a problem, defenses go up. He has no credibility and this proposal, even if it flies with the American president, will be vigorously opposed by others in the United States and, of course, in Ukraine.
The solution to the war: Russia needs to withdraw its forces to internationally recognized borders and stop arming and financing its proxies fighting in Ukraine.
Many analysts have thought that Putin did not want to annex the region as the expense of doing so would be enormous at a time when the Russian economy is limping along. However, rising oil prices may have made this calculation less onerous. Of course, the Luhansk and Donetsk republics could remain autonomous, although still heavily subsidized by Moscow. Both regions currently use the Russian ruble as their currency and official documents from the territories are accepted for travel, and other officials functions, in Russia.