Russia will stand up for the residents of the Donbas if it is forced to do so, said Dmitry Kozak, the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration.
The decision, he said, will be made "depending on the scale of the conflict."
Kozak said that Russia intends to protect Russian citizens in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, where the Kremlin issues Russian passports en masse.
Back in 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on granting Russian citizenship to the residents of the self-proclaimed republics. Since then, almost half a million people have obtained Russian citizenship.
The escalation of hostilities in the Donbas, where more than 14,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 2014, "will be the beginning of the end of Ukraine," Kozak threatened.
Russia, according to him, stands for full openness in the Minsk talks on the Donbas and the publication of relevant documents.
"Ukraine is afraid to reveal its inconsistency. They are afraid to speak publicly," Kozak said. "We offered an openness and broadcast of the meetings so that everyone could understand what was going on".
The emergency talks on the situation in the Donbas, held the day before, ended inconclusively, said the head of the Russian delegation, Boris Gryzlov.
Gryzlov laid all responsibility on Kyiv, which, according to him, "blocked without any arguments the constructive and specific mechanism of verification of violations" of the ceasefire.
"The participants of the contact group had hoped that as a result of the meeting concrete steps to implement additional measures would be proposed. However, the four-hour discussion ended inconclusively. Instead, Ukrainian representatives tried to wipe out and distort these measures again," Gryzlov said.
The Ukrainian side blamed Russia. Kyiv attempted to adopt a joint statment after the meeting, but the delegation from Moscow "started to pick at all the little things in the wording," said Oleksiy Arestovich, a spokesman for the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on the Donbas.
"We haggled over separate words, punctuation marks. We have indicated that we are ready for a compromise. We offered to put the bureaucracy aside until people on both sides stop dying. Let us, we say, now ensure a ceasefire, as it was in July-August, when the shooting actually stopped almost completely. We asked the Russian side directly: are you interested in preventing people from dying? They say, "Well, we want the parties to implement the agreements"... But we've already made a deal. And so, it goes around a circle," Kommersant quoted Arrestovich as saying.