LONDON (Reuters) – Separatist leader Denis Pushlin said on Tuesday that the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine might consider joining Russia once it took control of the entire Donetsk region, the Donetsk news agency reported.
“With regard to joining the Russian Federation, as for desire and ambition, they have been clearly traced since 2014 – the desire to be in Russia,” Pushlin was quoted by the Donetsk News Agency as saying.
“But the main task now is to reach the constitutional limits of the republic. Then we will determine that,” he said.
The comments come two days after the leader of the rebel Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, which is backed by Russia, announced that it might hold a referendum on joining Russia.
Kyiv said any such vote would have no legal basis and would lead to a stronger international response.
Three days before ordering the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, President Vladimir Putin recognized the breakaway territories of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states, although the rest of the world considers them to be part of Ukraine.
Ukraine, which says it is fighting for its existence against what it describes as Russia’s imperial-style land grab, has repeatedly said it would never agree to Russia’s annexation of its territory — the hardest part of peace talks with Moscow.
(Writing by Conor Humphries, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
“Writer. Evil travel maven. Avid creator. Proud beer expert. Music lover. Explorer.”