War will continue so long as Ukraine government stays: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Ukraine's economic problems, saying "It's always easier to blame economic failures on war" (AFP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) (POOL/AFP/File)

Buenos Aires (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he saw no end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine "as long as the current authorities remain in power."

"The current Ukrainian authorities have no interest in resolving the conflict, especially by peaceful means," Putin told reporters at the end of the G20 summit in Argentina.

"As long as they remain in power, the war will continue," the Russian leader said.

The conflict pitting Russian separatists against Ukrainian government forces is estimated to have claimed more than 10,000 lives -- one-third of them civilian -- since it broke out four years ago.

The war has strained relations with Western powers. They blame Putin for starting the conflict in 2014, when his forces annexed Crimea, laying the ground for Russian separatists to seize cities in eastern Ukraine.

Heavy military spending and the loss of vital industries in the separatist regions have weighed heavily on Ukraine's economy.

And Kiev has received only around half of a $17.5 billion rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of the slow pace of reforms that include anti-corruption measures.

But Putin dismissed Ukraine's economic problems on Saturday, saying, "It's always easier to blame economic failures on war."

"It's always the 'outside aggressor' who is guilty," he said.