MOSCOW (QHA) -

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that there are no Russian special services or instructors among those who seize government buildings and incite Ukrainian citizens to separatist actions in eastern Ukraine.

He said this during his annual "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin" session on Thursday".

“All this is nonsense. There are no Russian units, Russian special services or Russian instructors in eastern Ukraine. All of these people are local residents," he said.

Putin said that the "best" evidence of this was that "these people have taken off masks." The president does not see masked people in Russian military uniforms and weapons in eastern Ukraine. He said these are peaceful Ukrainian citizens, Ukrinform reported.

"In the east people began to arm themselves on their own," Putin said, adding that they have nowhere to go.

"They will not leave. They are the owners of this land. And it is necessary to talk to them," he said.

QHA