Speed Reads

Crisis in Ukraine

Putin: It's time to consider 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dangerously upped his rhetoric over the situation in eastern Ukraine, saying for the first time that the region should perhaps become an independent nation.

"We need to immediately begin substantive talks," he said Sunday in an interview with Russian state television, "on questions of the political organization of society and statehood for southeastern Ukraine with the goal of protecting the lawful interests of the people who live there."

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula back in March. Successfully pushing for further regional autonomy would represent an even greater erosion of the Ukrainian state.

The U.S. and NATO last week said there was indisputable evidence Russian troops and weaponry had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine to aid the pro-Russian separatists forces there. Putin did not necessarily dispel that claim in the interview, instead saying that, "Russia cannot stand aside when people are being shot at almost at point blank."