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We need Russian influence: Ukrainian minister

The Ukrainian government needs "Russian influence" to deal with the problems within its borders, one of its most senior members said ahead of a key summit between the two sparring countries.

"(It is) only with Russian influence we can sort the problem out," Pavlo Klimkin, foreign minister of Ukraine, told CNBC ahead of the talks in Minsk on Tuesday, which will see Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko meet at a summit of leaders in the region.


The conflict in Ukraine shows little signs of abating. On Thursday, dozens of people died as fighting in Donetsk, one of the disputed cities in eastern Ukraine, continued. More than 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far. While Crimea, formerly part of Ukraine, became part of Russia with few casualties earlier this year, after the Russia-friendly government of Viktor Yanukovych was thrown out of office, the tussle between pro-Russian separatists in Donbas has dragged on much longer and more bloodily.

At the moment, the Ukrainian government appears to have the upper hand militarily.

Russia is "absolutely" arming separatists within Ukraine at the moment, according to Klimkin.

He claimed the Ukrainian government wants to "de-escalate the situation" and "restore infrastructure" in the Donbas region, which has seen by far the heaviest casualties and damage to property.

"We want to give people of Donbas decentralization and more power," he added, suggesting that some greater regional autonomy may be granted to appease the rebels.


The crisis has caused the worst relations between Russia and the Western powers since the end of the Cold War.

It has also led to deepening economic problems for Ukraine, which was already struggling before the outbreak of violence.

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle

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