Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday warned against exaggerating the influence Moscow has over pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as tensions increased after the end of a cease-fire.
The West has repeatedly called on the Kremlin to put pressure on pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk to resolve the ongoing conflict, but Peskov called the situation an "internal conflict," Kommersant reported.
"Moscow cannot tell the separatists what to do. But it can appeal to them and use whatever influence it has," he said in comments to the business daily, adding that "Russia's influence on the separatists should not be exaggerated."
Peskov's comments came as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced his decision not to extend the cease-fire in the country's east and to launch a new military operation in separatist strongholds.