Moscow quickly responded to the offensive of the Ukrainian army that started in the town of Slavyansk, the Donetsk region. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the decision of Kiev to start the military operation.
"If, indeed, the current regime in Kiev began to use the army against the population in the country, then this is a very serious crime against their own people," said Putin recalling that even the legitimate head of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, did not dare to use the army to disperse rallies in Kiev although this had been mandated.
Putin is convinced that the sitting authorities in Kiev do not have such a mandate, and their actions can be considered legitimate only partially. "This is a junta, they are militarists," the Russian president said.
According to him, what is happening now in the Donetsk region of Ukraine "is a punitive operation that will have consequences for the people who make these decisions, including in the field of inter-state relations."
"We took part in the meeting in Geneva and signed certain agreements there that said that both sides need to disarm their people, free captured buildings and so on. But what's happening? Neither the Right Sector, nor other radical organizations want to disarm, no one frees anything in Kiev either. On the contrary, they started to legalize these groups," said the president.
"One needs to go on the path of a dialogue between all residents of the country, no matter where they may live," he said.
The Russian president also said that he was certain that the Crimea could have found itself in the same situation, if the peninsula had not joined Russia. "If it wasn't for Russia's support to the people, who live in the Crimea, it would have been impossible to conduct the process for the people to freely express their will. It would have been identical to what's going on in the east and in the south of Ukraine. It would have been the same, or even worse," Putin said.