Ukrainian Deputy Minister for temporarily occupied territory and internally displaced people Heorhiy Tuka predicts that the liberation of occupied areas in Donbas from Russian-backed militants and Russian troops may start in autumn 2017, according to Espreso.tv.
Yet, he said, the return of Russian-occupied Crimea and the liberation of Donbas should be addressed separately, as retaking the annexed peninsula may take much longer, he said.
"I have a distinct feeling that in autumn we will be able to start the actual process of the return of the Donbass territories. More likely, in a nonmilitary way, and I really hope so," - he said.
In his words, it will happen because Russia will simply stop to financially support those areas, being under pressure.
"All expert estimates say that as soon as the economic support stops, even if the military component remains in place, it will take the central government of Ukraine no more than three months to restore order there", - Tuka said.