Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist in eastern Ukraine and the head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic or DPR, stated that joining Russia was not among the goals pursued by the people he represented.
“The goal of our movement is not to join the DPR to Russia, but to enhance communication between our citizens and authorities to make our people’s lives better,” Zakharchenko said at an on-line press conference.
According to him, “the people of Donbas must first band together”.
“As I recall, all cities and villages of the former Donetsk region voted affirmatively at the referendum for the Donetsk People's Republic. If we want to decide whether to take them to Russia or not, we need to learn their opinion first. I am not to decide unilaterally on such matters. But I am sure that after the people of Donbas come together, they will be able to shape their future. Our goal is to ensure that people can express their will, and then to manifest it in life,” Zakharchenko said.
Zakharchenko also added that returning to Ukraine was not in the picture.