REUTERS

“The illegal armed groups, which mainly operate in the first echelon of confrontation with the forces of the anti-terrorist operation, under Russia's strict supervision, have transformed into a real army, the size of which already exceeds that of some European armies. It already amounts to 34,000 troops,” said Mekhed at a hearing of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defense, entitled: "Territorial Defense of Ukraine in the conditions of a hybrid war”. “It has a significant amount of weapons and military equipment," Mekhed added.

As the deputy defense minister noted, military and terrorist activity remains an essential component of the conflict and is seen by Russia as a means of settlement of the situation in Ukraine [according to Russia’s interests]."

"In these conditions, to provide an adequate response to military and terrorist threats of a hybrid war, we make use of the Armed Forces, other military units and law enforcement agencies, formed according to Ukrainian legislation, in the anti-terrorist operation and territorial defense of Ukraine, which provides for stabilization of the contact line in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and prevents the conflict from spreading to the rear of the country," said Mehedi.