(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that a full-scale war in the broader Middle East would be a global “catastrophe” and said he hopes it won’t happen.

“War is already going on there -- it is low-intensity, but this is war,” Putin said at a news conference in Moscow after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday. “People get killed. It’s a fact.”

Putin was responding to a question about U.S.-Iranian tensions after the targeted killing of a Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq and the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet near Tehran by a missile that Iran said was fired in error.

“We would like to avoid major military actions,” Putin said. “If this happens, it will be a catastrophe not only for the Middle East region but for the whole world.”

He said reducing tension in the region was among the topics he and Merkel discussed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka, Steve Geimann

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