At a press conference, on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukrainian nationalists would carry out a massacre “worse than in Srebrenica” if the DPR and LPR militia laid down their arms.
“There is no Russian army in the Donbas. But there are certainly established military militia groups that are self-sufficient and ready to repel any large-scale military actions against the Donbas. We believe that this is in the interests of the people who live in this territory. Because if they did not have such an opportunity, the massacre, and even worse than in Srebrenica, would be carried out by [Ukrainian] nationalist battalions,” Putin said.
This is the second time that Putin talked about the possibility of massacres in the Donbas. On October 19, at a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club, the Russian president said that closing the border between Russia and the unrecognized republics would lead to a situation equal to what took place in Srebrenica.
According to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, there are as many as 5,000 Russian troops in the territory of the Donbas. The total number of soldiers, including the regular Russian military, is over 50,000.