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Putin blames conflict in Ukraine on US, allies



Moscow, Feb 9 (IANS/EFE) Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the US and its allies for causing the crisis in Ukraine with their attempts to "impose their will everywhere".

The Ukrainian crisis "is the result of attempts by the United States and its Western allies who consider themselves ‘winners’ of the Cold War, imposing their will everywhere", Putin said in an interview published by the Egyptian state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on the eve of his official visit to Egypt beginning Monday.

"On several occasions, we warned the United States and its Western partners of the dire consequences of interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine," the Kremlin chief said.

He claimed that the way to stabilise the situation in eastern Ukraine was the immediate cessation of hostilities, particularly what is called by the Ukrainian Army “anti-terrorist operations, which is nothing more than a punitive operation".

The interview apparently was held prior to the consultations this weekend when Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande developed a roadmap for achieving peace in Ukraine.

After telephone consultations with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, it was agreed to convene a summit Wednesday in Minsk, site of the previous rounds of talks between Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists which led to a now broken ceasefire.

According to UN figures, more than 5,300 combatants and civilians have died in nearly 10 months of armed conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

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