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

Journalists attend Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow

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)