Vladimir Putin says he hopes Russia and Ukraine won't go to war
Polls show 81% of Russians have a negative view toward the U.S.
A war with Ukraine would be “apocalyptic” but will probably never happen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“I believe such (an) apocalyptic scenario is unlikely, and hope that it will never get to that point,” he told Russian media Monday.
Putin said he’s confident the crisis will stabilize if the Minsk Agreement is implemented.
The accord, between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, includes a ceasefire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists and an agreement for both sides to pull back heavy weapons.
Despite frequent violations of the ceasefire, Putin said there’s no need for immediate action beyond the Minsk Agreement, such as more international peace talks or the formal recognition of rebel separatist groups like the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Lugansk.
“I really hope (the Minsk Agreement) is implemented, and if it is – it is the right way to normalization of situation in that Ukrainian region,” Putin said.
But the chaos on the ground in eastern Ukraine suggests the truce is crumbling. In the past week, shelling has intensified in the city of Donetsk.
And on Friday, Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council reported 300 violations of the ceasefire, which was less than a week old.
Ukraine has said its forces won’t back down until attacks from the rebels stop. Pro-Russian separatists have also accused Ukraine of instigating violence.
In his interview, Putin also said there’s no chance Crimea – which was annexed by Russia last year – will go back in Ukraine.
“Regarding the return of any territories, such things are of revengeful nature, and it is not about return of some territories somewhere,” Putin said
“Crimea will remain Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Greek, and German – it will be a home to all these nations. With regard to its nationality, Crimean people made their choice, which we must respect.”
Anti-U.S. sentiment grows
On the streets of Moscow, many Russian point their fingers at the United States for the Ukraine crisis.
The latest polls show 81% of Russians have a negative view of the U.S. – the highest number since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
State-run media reports the United States wants to encroach on Russia.
And the Kremlin’s propaganda campaign seems to be paying off.
“My attitude to America is bad,” one woman said. “The way I watch the news, I realize the Americans want to get a hold of half of Russia.”
Russia has denied widespread claims that it is supporting the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and has sent its own troops to the border.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since mid-April amid the fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops. Many of those killed were civilians.
CNN’s Erin McLaughlin and Elena Sandyrev contributed to this report.