Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that there are no Russian Armed Forces units in eastern Ukraine.
"Such claims are nonsense," Putin said during his annual call-in live broadcast on Thursday.
"There are no Russian units, Russian special services or Russian instructors in the east of Ukraine. All of these people are local residents. The fact that these people have taken off masks in the direct sense of the word proves this best of all," he said.
"What I can tell my Western partners is that these people have nowhere to go. They will not leave. They are the owners of this land. And it is necessary to talk to them," the Russian president said.
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