ST. PETERSBURG, January 18. /TASS/. Full-scale hostilities in Donbass have continued unabated since 2014, and all of Russia’s countermeasures, including the special operation, are aimed at stopping this war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday at a meeting with veterans of the Great Patriotic War and survivors of the siege of Leningrad during World War II.
"In fact, full-scale hostilities in Donbass have not stopped since 2014. They involved heavy equipment, artillery, tanks and aircraft. It all happened. Everything that we are doing today, including the special military operation, is an attempt to stop this war. This is the gist of our operation: to protect our people who live there, on these territories," he said.
Putin recalled that those lands were historical territories of Russia, which, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, were ceded to Ukraine. "Russia reconciled itself with this development, despite the fact that these are our historical territories. But we could not but react to what began to happen there," he said.
Putin drew attention to the fact that the tragedy that developed into the current events in Ukraine started in 2014.
"It began precisely with an armed coup in Ukraine. And, as we know, this required our assistance to the Crimeans. Then the events in Donbass followed," Putin recalled.
He noted that the Kiev authorities had begun, in fact, to exterminate people who lived in these territories - "for the sole reason they consider themselves linked with Russian culture, with the Russian language and with the traditions of their people, their ancestors."