Putin says Russia will defend its interests with all available means

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President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would fight to defend its interests using all available means.

Putin was speaking at a televised annual session of his Human Rights Council where he complained that Western rights organizations viewed Russia as “a second-class country that has no right to exist at all.”

“This is what we are dealing with,” Putin said. “There can be only one answer from our side - a consistent struggle for our national interests. We will do just that. And let no one count on anything else.”

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He continued: “Yes, we will do this by various ways and means. First of all, of course, we will focus on peaceful means, but if nothing else remains, we will defend ourselves with all the means at our disposal.”

Putin was speaking in the 10th month of the Ukraine war, responding to comments by a member of the rights council who said Ukrainian forces were shelling residential areas of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region.

Ukraine has suffered heavy civilian casualties throughout the war. Russia denies targeting civilians.

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