The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said the region would need financial support from Moscow and hinted at the possibility of even closer ties with Russia, in a live interview on Russia 24 on Friday.
“Of course, the financial aspect here is quite serious and it will be difficult to do without Russian support, but this is only in the first stages,” said Denis Pushilin. “Considering that the DPR will eventually reach the administrative borders, according to our calculations, [the need for financial aid] will only be for a short time.
“And then, not only will we achieve self-sufficiency, but we can also help other regions,” Pushilin concluded.
A bit of context: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed decrees recognizing the two controversial separatist-held regions, the DPR and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), during a ceremony broadcast on state television. On Thursday, Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
The conflict first erupted in 2014 after Russian-backed rebels seized government buildings in towns and villages in eastern Ukraine. Intense fighting has left parts of Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts in the eastern Donbass region in the hands of Russian-backed separatists. Russia also annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014 in a move that drew global condemnation.
The Ukrainian government in Kyiv claims that both regions are in fact occupied by Russia.
Claimed victims: Pushilin went on to say Friday was not a quiet night for his forces.
“Unfortunately, I must admit that overnight there were injuries and deaths among the military [of separatist forces],” he said.
When asked when the military operation could be considered over, Pushilin replied: “As soon as we repel or destroy the weapons that are used to strike our areas, we can say that everything is completely safe in the territory of the DPR. ”
He claimed that several Ukrainian servicemen had been captured by DPR forces.
“A number of servicemen, wanting to stay alive and return to their families, laid down their arms and surrendered,” Pushilin said, suggesting the prisoners could return to their families “after the end of the war.”
CNN cannot independently verify Pushilin’s claims about the victims inflicted on Ukraine.