Russian President Vladimir Putin is giving his tenth annual press conference on Thursday. The news conference arouses extremely high expectations as it is to take place against the unprecedented background of spiraling financial and economic problems merged with worsening international ones. In the beginning of the conference Vladimir Putin will sum up the results of the year. Then the president will answer the journalists' questions.
A Ukrainian journalist asks about the situation in eastern Ukraine and alleged participation of Russia in the combat actions in the conflict region. Those Russians who are taking part in combat operations in the south-east of Ukraine as volunteers are not mercenaries, because they are not paid for this, Putin answered. Vladimir Putin said the military operation in Ukraine's east is indeed a punitive one. Russia is ready to mediate the Ukrainian conflict settlement, according to the president. Crisis in Ukraine should be settled by political means only, not by military means or by a blockade, Putin stressed. He reminded that the tenth humanitarian convoy is on the way to eastern Ukraine. The president of Ukraine wants to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, but he's not the only one, Vladimir Putin said, adding he was one of the people initiating the Minsk agreements.
Vladimir Putin says he thinks prisoners of war in Ukraine should be exchanged 'all for all'. The problem, according to the president, is that the lists of prisoners include innocent people that weren't involved in the conflict.