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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Moscow not to abandon Russians in Ukraine: Putin

Iran Press TV

Sun Dec 20, 2015 3:22PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his government will take appropriate action to protect Russian nationals in east Ukraine to nationalists there.

'We proceed from only one thing, which is we cannot just abandon the people who live in the southeast of the country to nationalists to eat them up,' Putin was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying in a documentary program on Sunday.

The eastern regions of Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russia forces since April 2014.

Russia says ethnic Russians and Ukrainians who speak Russian in the region are facing threat from Ukrainian nationalists.

The UN human rights office said earlier this month that some 9,098 people, including civilians and soldiers, have been killed and 20,732 others have been injured in eastern Ukraine since the conflict began there.

Moscow-Kiev relations have been strained since Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined the Russian Federation following a referendum in March 2014.

Ties soured further after Ukraine launched military operations in April 2014 to silence pro-Russia forces in the country's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

On US nukes

Putin also said in the documentary that Moscow would continue upgrading its nuclear weapons as deterrence and security factor against the US nuclear weapons which are stationed in Europe.

"Right now the Americans are simply updating their nukes there. This is a dangerous thing of course. Why? Because our tactical weapons do not reach US territory, while the American nukes in Europe can reach ours, which makes them strategic and poses a greater risk to us than our strategic missiles pose to America," Putin said.

Russia does not look favorably upon the deployment of nuclear weapons in NATO states near its borders. Putin said in June that if NATO threatens Russia, Moscow will respond to the threat accordingly.

Earlier this month, Russian Defense Ministry said Washington deployed 200 nuclear bombs in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey.

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