MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. The Ukrainian armed forces continue bombarding Donbass peaceful cities, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"Units of the Ukrainian armed forces keep shelling Donbass peaceful cities. There are casualties among the civilian population of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics," the spokesman said.
The Russian troops are providing fire support for the armed forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), he added. "Now they [the DPR and LPR forces] have switched to a counter-offensive with the support of the Russian armed forces," the spokesman said.
Russian President Vladimir 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.
Civilians are not threatened, it assured.