MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. Russia was forced to start a special military operation to protect people from genocide and ensure Ukraine's nuclear-free and neutral status, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday at a meeting of the CSTO Defense Ministers Council.
He noted that under Russophobic nationalist sentiments developed in Ukrainian society under Western patronage, and the Russian language, Russian culture and common history of the two countries were persecuted.
"Those who disagreed with this development were simply destroyed. For eight years, the Kiev regime methodically shelled towns and villages in Donbass. During that time, more than 14,000 people were killed and about 33,000 were wounded. All our attempts to force Kiev to implement the Minsk agreements were in vain, it simply ignored them," the minister said.
"In the emerging situation, Russia was forced to start a special military operation to protect people from genocide, as well as demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, ensuring its nuclear-free and neutral status," he stressed.