Defense minister: Militants have same amount of troops, arms ‘as average European country’
Russian-backed militant forces in the east of Ukraine now have the same quantity of troops and weapons as the average European country, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said in Kyiv on Monday at a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Inter-Parliamentary Council, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
According to Poltorak, about 42,500 Russian soldiers and militants are fighting in the Donbas, and Russia continues to be the main organizer and sponsor of the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine.
Moreover, he said Moscow was continuing to supply weapons and train the armed groups. According to the Minsk peace agreement, all foreign armed forces were supposed to have withdrawn from eastern Ukraine.
"As of today, the total number of the Russian armed forces and illegal armed groups in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions is about 42,500 people," Poltorak said.
"They have 558 tanks, combat vehicles, artillery systems and other weapons. Such a quantity of weapons would be enough for the average European country."