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Vladimir Putin gave an ominous warning to Ukraine on Thursday that its attempts to push back pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country would result in "consequences."
The Russian president made the comments after the new Kiev regime ramped up efforts to wrestle back control of several towns and cities in the Donetsk region that have been seized by pro-Russian militias. Earlier, Kiev announced that several separatists had been killed during the "anti-terrorism" operation.
Putin said that Ukraine using its army constituted a crime against its own people, according to a translation by Reuters.
"It is just a punitive operation and it will of course incur consequences for the people making these decisions, including [an effect] on our interstate relations,'' he said.
What these consequences might entail was hinted at by Russia's Foreign Minister Segey Lavrov, who on Wednesday compared the Ukraine crisis to Russia's war with Georgia in 2008 and said Moscow may be forced to respond in a similar way.
The U.S. and Europe has repeatedly warned Russia it would face consequences over its actions in Ukraine, but the threat from the West has only ever referred to sanctions.
Asked about the effect of these sanctions, Putin said Thursday: "Do the measures taken by our partners [in the West] bring any harm to us? On the whole, I guess they do, because the ratings are being reconsidered, there could be a credit tightening and so on. But they are not crucial."
Reuters contributed to this report.