Watch excerpts from i.m.o. a rather uncertain, hesitant statement from Putin, in this video here. It followed a meeting with president Hollande of France a couple of days ago.
This is a summary from ostro.org:
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande discussed the need to restore economic ties between the Eastern part and the rest of the Ukraine.
"Both parts of this territory need each other," he said, declaring that a significant portion of Ukrainian energy requirements are satisfied by coal mined in the Donbas.
"Ultimately we need to restore economic relations, it is necessary to send in coal and get electricity back. It is necessary to establish the normal functioning of financial institutions. It can all be done and is needed as quickly as possible.
According to Putin the Minsk agreement is not always being adhered to by either side. "We are for their full implementation. However, we note that neither the authorities in Kiev, and from Donetsk and Lugansk, are fulfilling either of them."
"Hopefully, it will be possible for both Kyiv and Donetsk and Lugansk to emerge with mutually acceptable solutions that would satisfy all parties and, most importantly, would stop the armed conflict."
The president of the Russian Federation expects that Kiev stop its blockade of the east of Ukraine. "Otherwise it is difficult to imagine the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia, as you know, supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine", - he said.
Hollande and other western leaders will see huge disconnect here. Their security services are informing them daily of massive Russia military incursions into eastern Ukraine, but they know they have to go along with the charade to some degree for Putin to emerge from this debacle without losing too much face. Meanwhile Russian heavily armed 'volunteers' continue to flood into eastern Ukraine and pound Ukrainian forces' positions with heavy weaponry.
But Putin was correct in stating that people on both sides of the front need one another to survive the winter. Coal stocks at power stations on one side of the front line [which supply electricity to customers on both sides], are critically low. Mines on the separatist side have about 2 million tons of coal stored at the pit head ready to go, but this cannot be transported because of severely damaged infrastructure and restrictions at borders. Absurdly, some coal is being imported from South Africa and beyond whilst there is plenty available a few miles down the road. These matters may be relatively simple to resolve, but even if hostilities die down for a while, what then?
Administration of civic affairs, health, education etc. has been taken over by incompetent bozos - pals of the thuggish leaders of the LNR and DNR. Many experienced civic administrators have left. Millions of citizens have not received wages and salaries since the summer.
Teachers and doctors are being completely messed about - and are not being consulted or paid. Some are leaving or have left...the remainder are at their wits end and may soon go on strike.
The Donbas region was by no means the poorest in Ukraine, yet is now on its knees - barely able to provide basic humanitarian requirements to those not able to fend for themselves. Who is to help these people? The thugs brandishing their guns in the swanky bars and restaurants of Donetsk?