Russia to ramp up support for Ukraine's rebel-held east - Putin

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the Artificial Intelligence Journey conference via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia December 4, 2020. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia would ramp up its support for Ukraine’s rebel-controlled eastern Donbass region where conflict broke out in 2014 between pro-Moscow rebels and government forces.

Putin told his annual news conference that Russia would help the region upgrade its factories, infrastructure and help it meet the social needs of local people whom he said faced challenges.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Andrew Osborn; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn