Senior Kremlin officials said that under certain circumstances, Russia may be forced to defend the citizens of eastern Ukraine, and a major military conflict may mark the beginning of the end of Ukraine as a country.
Western countries called for restraint, because Ukraine had gathered Russian troops near the Russian-Ukrainian border, so Ukraine issued an alarm.
Violence intensified along the dividing line between government forces and separatists in the Donbas region in the east.
Dmitry Kozak, deputy director of the Russian President’s Office, said: “I support…the beginning of military operations…will be the beginning of the assessment of the end of Ukraine.”
Someone asked Kozak whether Russia would protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine.
When referring to Srebrenica, the Bosnian Serb forces killed about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the 1992-1995 Bosnia-Herzegovina War. He said: “It all depends on the scale of the conflict. Obviously, we will not Don’t interfere to protect them.”
In a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of taking provocative actions in eastern Ukraine.