The restoration of relations with Kiev is in Russia's interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday during his annual live Q-and-A session.
"We would seek to restore our relations with Ukraine. This is in our interests," Putin said in a live broadcast from a Moscow television studio, while urging Kiev to grab the opportunity and fully implement the Minsk accords.
The president lamented that Kiev seemed unwilling to make use of the truce deal signed in February and had missed its chances for several times to restore peace.
"I think (Kiev's aggressive actions) were colossal mistakes, and such moves bring the situation into a deadlock," Putin said.
He said that Russia is also interested in the economic recovery in Ukraine.
"We are interested in stability and order on our borders, as well as in having an opportunity to have and develop economic ties with a prosperous partner," Putin said.
Ukraine plunged into its worst economic recession in decades last year, and will need financing of about 40 billion U.S. dollars over the next four years, according to the estimation of the IMF.
Putin said it is the understanding of Ukraine's difficult economic situation that makes Russia decide to extend the gas discounts provided to Kiev.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on April 1 to extend the gas discount of no more than 100 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas for three months until June 30.
Putin also called on the Kiev government to treat Russia as "an equal partner." He said "directly and definitely" that there are no Russian troops in Ukraine, adding that a war between Russia and Ukraine would be impossible.
For nearly four hours at the annual phone-in, Putin answered more than 70 questions from across the country on issues ranging from Russia's domestic problems to foreign relations with the West and the Ukraine crisis.