Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' of eastern Ukraine31 August 2014 | 17:59 | FOCUS News Agency
"We need to immediately begin substantive talks ... on questions of the political organisation of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine with the goal of protecting the lawful interests of the people who live there," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on a TV show broadcast in the far east of the country.
Russia has previously only called for greater rights under a decentralised federal system for the eastern regions of Ukraine, where predominantly Russian-speakers live.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said it was an "absolutely incorrect interpretation" to understand Putin as calling for the region's independence to be put on the agenda, and that he had only called for "inclusive talks" between Kiev and the separatists.
"Only Ukraine can reach an agreement with Novorossiya and take into account the interests of Novorossiya's population," Peskov was quoted as saying, using the loaded Tsarist-era term "New Russia" that Putin recently reintroduced to talk about several regions in southeastern Ukraine.
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