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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: April 6, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Poroshenko Offered Donbass to Putin But He Wouldn't Take It - Forbes
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Russian Defense Industry's Rostec to Lay Off 40,000 Managers reports that Russian-language Forbes magazine has published a story today claiming that at a closed meeting with members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) on March 19, 2015, President Vladimir Putin said that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had offered to him to incorporate the Donbass into Russia during the "Normany Four" negotiations in Minsk on February 11-12, but Putin had refused.

The story comes from an unnamed source described by Forbes as "familiar with the content of Putin's talk at the RSPP."

The Interpreter has translated an excerpt:

He (Poroshenko--Forbes) told me outright: "Take the Donbass." I replied to him: "Have you gone mad? I don't need the Donbass. If you don't need it, then declare its independence." Poroshenko, according to the Russian president said that the Ukrainian authorities would not go for this. Then the Ukrainian authorities must pay the pensions and welfare of the Donbass and restore the banking system, Putin insisted.

A participant in the meeting who requested confidentiality confirms that Putin told the business [community] about the unexpected offer by Poroshenko to take the Donbass, and his refusal to do so. "Poroshenko offered Russia to take the Donbass for financial compensation. But Putin said that this could only be discussed if the Donbass would be incorporated into Russia, and as long as the Donbass is part of Ukraine then all payments should be from the Ukrainian side," the source told Forbes.

Putin also told the businessmen that he didn't believe the Minsk agreements would be fulfilled.

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said he couldn't confirm or deny the statement made by the Forbes' source, since the talk at the RSPP was closed. Poroshenko's press secretary Sviatoslav Tsegolko has not answered repeated phone calls. A representative of Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Merkel considers the process of withdrawal of heavy armor from the conflict area insufficiently transparent and could not comment on Poroshenko's alleged offer to Putin. The office of French President Francois Hollande could not be reached, said Forbes.

Yevhen Perebyinis, spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had a wry explanation, based on the similarity of words in Ukrainian that might be misunderstood in Russian.

In Ukrainian, "Zabiraytesya z Donbasu" would mean "Get out of the Donbass."

In Russian, this would be said as "Ubiraytes' iz Donbassa." "Take the Donbass" would be said, "Zabirayte Donbass."

Translation: "Get out of the Donbass" does not mean "Take the Donbass," but quite the opposite.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick