While on a working trip to St Petersburg Vladimir Putin visited the Mining University.
Here is an excerpt from a transcript of the meeting with students:
Regrettably, the government in Kiev has refused to take the road of a peaceful settlement and does not want to resolve the problem through political means. First they used the law enforcement agencies, then the security services, and then the army. Later, when they ran up against resistance, they suspended military operations, but sadly, they only used the temporary peace to regroup and then start their operations again. They are pursuing these operations again now. Thousands of people have already been killed. This is certainly a real tragedy.
We often speak of the ‘Ukrainian army’, but who is doing the fighting there in reality? Yes, in part it is official armed forces units, but a substantial part of those doing the fighting come from the so-called volunteer nationalist battalions. Essentially, this is not an army but is a foreign legion, in this particular case, a NATO foreign legion, which is not pursuing Ukraine’s national interests of course. They have completely different goals, related to achieving their geopolitical aim of containing Russia, and this is absolutely not in the Ukrainian people’s national interests
Unfortunately though, we have the situation we see before us now. We need to help the people there. Incidentally, many people are trying to get out of being called up for duty. Some are trying to come here to Russia and wait things out a while here, and they are right to do this because there, they are simply being sent as cannon fodder to face the bullets. The problem is though, that under the new law, Ukrainian citizens cannot spend more than 30 days at a time in Russia. So they go back home and get caught and sent off again to face the bullets. We will therefore probably make some changes. Within the law’s provisions, we could increase the amount of time certain categories of people, above all people of conscript age, can stay in Russia.