" --IANS/TASS"
Moscow, Dec 18 (IANS/TASS) Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday proffered to mediate in the Ukraine crisis and said that the only way to solve the crisis is through dialogue while saying that the bounce back from its current economic crisis within two years.

I hope that a dialogue, in which we act as mediators, will help to settle the situation (in Ukraine), Putin said at his annual media conference.

The Russian president said that the armed state coup in Ukraine was not acceptable to a part of that country.

Instead of launching something (in the nature of) a political dialogue, the authorities in Kiev called in police and law enforcers. When that did not work, they sent in the army; but when that did not work either, they resorted to an economic blockade to solve the problem, the Russian president explained.

He characterised the events in eastern Ukraine as a punitive operation carried out by the Kiev authorities.

Putin described Kiev's attempts to use force as absolutely futureless and harmful for Ukraine's statehood and for the Ukrainian people.

The Russian president noted that his Ukrainian counterpart Pyotr Poroshenko wanted to implement the Minsk agreement, but he was not the only politician in Ukraine.

He is not the only one (politician) in Ukraine. Calls for resolving the problem by force can still be heard, Putin said.

He expressed a strong belief that the civil war in Ukraine could have been avoided had Western powers demanded that the opposition in Kiev honoured the provisions of the Feb 21 agreements.

At that moment, Putin said, the Europeans ought to have said to the Ukrainian radicals: You know, guys, we really want to see you in Europe... but this is not the right way to get to Europe.

Had they taken that stance, there would have been no civil war and so many casualties, according to Putin.

On the Russian economy, Putin made an optimistic forecast.

The situation in the economy may start improving as early as the first quarter of 2015, Putin said.

A way out of the current situation and Russia's economic growth are possible. Under the most negative circumstances it will take two years, the Russian president said.

The current situation in the economy stems first and foremost from external factors, according to Putin. He dismissed any attempts to link it to Crimea's reunification with Russia.

--IANS/TASS

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