Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine

“We need to immediately begin substantive talks … on questions of the political organisation of society and statehood for southeastern Ukraine with the goal of protecting the lawful interests of the people who live there,” Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on a TV show broadcast in the far east of the country.

Russia has previously only called for greater rights under a decentralised federal system to be accorded to the eastern regions of Ukraine, where predominantly Russian-speakers live.

In the programme, taped on Friday, Putin did not directly address additional Western sanctions on Russia.