Russia says it could be forced to protect its citizens in east Ukraine: TASS

A senior Kremlin official said on Thursday Russia could under certain circumstance be forced to defend its citizens in eastern Ukraine and that major military hostilities could mark the beginning of the end of Ukraine as a country, TASS news agency reported.

Western nations have called for restraint after Ukraine raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border with Russia. Violence has risen along the line of contact between government forces and separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.

“…I support the assessment that … the start of military action – this would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine,” the deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, Dmitry Kozak, was quoted as saying.

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