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Russian diplomat says East Ukraine was home to massive arms stocks long before the crisis

February 16, 2015, 15:54 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
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BRUSSELS, February 16. /TASS/. East Ukraine had a vast weapons stockpile long before the conflict erupted, and Moscow can't be accused of amassing it, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union said in an exclusive interview with TASS on Monday.

A "huge amount of weaponry" had existed over past decades since Soviet times, Vladimir Chizhov said. Tank depots and stores of other "metallic items" were located there, even repair plants able to make one operational tank from two disabled ones, the envoy said."

"We believe people in Donbas have solid grounds not to trust authorities in Kiev," he said. After the February 2014 coup "the people in Donbas felt defeated. They disliked this as, moreover, they were not fighting anyone and were at peace," Chizhov said.

East Ukraine saw that those coming to power did not represent, and even ignored, their interests. "Donbas was speaking then only about federalization. Talk of people's republics emerged only "when the Kiev authorities, by ignoring the will of a considerable part of the population and destroying the last remaining mutual trust with the [restrictive] Russian language law and similar measures, in fact started an offensive in Donbas, launching the so-called anti-terrorist operation", Chizhov said.

"At that very moment, people in Donbas took up arms," he added.

Russia's language, used extensively in Ukraine, was granted regional language status in 13 of 27 geographical areas under law in 2012. One of the first acts of the new Ukrainian parliament in February last year was to approve a bill repealing this statute, though this has still not been signed into law. Observers judge the move by Ukraine’s lawmakers as testimony to the anti-Russian orientation of those seizing power.

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