MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. As a means of violent intimidation, Ukrainian extremists are carrying out lynchings and massacres against servicemen who laid down their arms or are loath to carry on fighting, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov told journalists citing reports from ex-Ukrainian servicemen.
"Multiple cases were recorded of massacres and reprisals carried out by nationalists against conscripts unwilling to fight in order to intimidate the personnel of the Ukrainian Army’s units. Those Ukrainian servicemen who laid down their arms talk about this," the spokesman said.
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). Subsequent agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance were signed with their leaders.
Putin said in a televised address on Thursday morning that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported later on Thursday that Russian troops were not delivering strikes against Ukrainian cities. It emphasized that Ukrainian military infrastructure was being destroyed by precision weapons.