Ukrainian conflict: What exactly is Russia trying to achieve in the east?
Moscow has a vital interest in maintaining a unified Ukraine in which the pro-Russian south-eastern regions will have a distinct voice. The main goal of Russia’s support for the militants in the Donbass region is to ultimately prevent Ukraine’s entry into NATO and to preserve its non-aligned status.
Moscow has officially made it clear that Kiev must listen to the opinions of the south-eastern regions of Ukraine, where the population speaks mostly Russian and traditionally gravitates towards Russia. This is why the Kremlin is seeking direct negotiations between Kiev and representatives of the breakaway republics in the southeast, at which they should agree upon the principles of the future government.
“We need to immediately begin substantive, meaningful negotiations, and not just on technical issues, but on the political organization of society and statehood in the southeast of Ukraine, in order to unconditionally guarantee the legal interests of the people who live there,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin.