The Russian president’s comments come as troops and tanks entered the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, on Friday morning, amid continued heavy fighting with Ukrainian military forces.
At a televised meeting with Russia’s security council, Mr Putin said: “I once again appeal to the military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to use your children, wives and elders as human shields.
“Take power into your own hands, it will be easier for us to reach agreement.”
Mr Putin added that Russian servicemen in Ukraine were acting “bravely, professionally and heroically.”
It comes as the Kremlin said that Mr Putin is ready to send a delegation to Minsk for negotiations with representatives of Ukraine, after the Russian leader held a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Earlier in the day Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that the country was willing to send a delegation to the Belorussian capital including foreign and defence ministry officials.
The second day of Russia’s assault on Ukraine has focused on the Ukrainian capital, where there has been…