Minsk deals failure led to Russia’s Ukraine offensive
Russia launched what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine because its concerns around peace accords between Kyiv and Russian-backed separatists were ignored, Russian news agencies quoted the Kremlin spokesman as saying yesterday.
President Vladimir Putin this week bemoaned the failure to implement the Minsk agreements - ceasefire and constitutional reform deals between Kyiv and Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine brokered in 2014 and 2015 by Russia, France and Germany, at the outset of the conflict with Ukraine.
Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of violating the deal.
Asked by a journalist whether Russia understood that it was being "deceived" over the Minsk accords, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Over time, of course, it became obvious.
"And, again, President Putin and our other representatives constantly kept saying this," the TASS news agency quoted Peskov as saying. "But this was all ignored by the other participants of the negotiation process.
"This is all precisely the precursor to the special military operation."
Putin was asked on Friday about remarks by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the agreements' sponsors, who told the Zeit magazine in an interview published on Wednesday that the 2014 agreement had been "an attempt to give Ukraine time" - which it had used to become more able to defend itself.
Russian media and politicians have quickly construed this as a betrayal on Merkel's part.
Peskov said Europe is simply switching from dependency on Russian gas to dependency on liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.
European Union countries held emergency negotiations on Saturday as they attempt to line up a deal to cap prices at a Dec. 13 meeting of their energy ministers, but states remain split over the plan.
Peskov called the European desire to shake off dependency on Russian gas "absurd" and "frenzied".
"They have changed dependency on Russia to dependency on American liquefied natural gas," RIA quoted Peskov as saying on state television, noting that the dependence was the same, just with "much less reciprocity".
"And now, when the Europeans are losing billions of euros every day, Washington is already earning these billions of dollars," Peskov said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine attacked occupied Melitopol in the country's southeast on Saturday evening, the Russian-installed and exiled Ukrainian authorities of the strategically located city said.
The pro-Moscow authorities said a missile attack killed two people and wounded 10, while the exiled mayor said scores of "invaders" were killed.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports of the attacks or deaths.
"Air defence systems destroyed two missiles, four reached their targets," Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-appointed governor of the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on the Telegram messaging app.
He said a "recreation centre" where people were dining was destroyed in the Ukrainian attack with HIMARS missiles.
HIMARS multiple rocket launchers have been among Ukraine's most effective weapons in the war, delivering precision fire on hundreds of targets, including Russian command posts. On Friday, the United States said it was sending more aid to Kyiv to strengthen its air defences and defeat drones.