60,000 military involved in E. Ukraine op – President Poroshenko
The number of government troops deployed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine has reached 60,000 troops, according to President Petro Poroshenko. The statement comes as the total of Ukrainian refugees has exceeded 900,000 people, according to UN.
"We are doing our best to ensure the security of our state. We have brought the number of our armed forces in the ATO zone to 60,000 servicemen today. There used to be no more than 30,000 in peak periods in the past," Poroshenko said in an interview with the Inter TV channel on Friday, as cited by the UNIAN news agency.
Ukrainian authorities have tried their best to provide units with new military equipment, to improve logistics and financial support, and to train soldiers to Western standards. Foreign military trainers are involved in the process, Poroshenko added.
On Thursday, the Ukrainian president signed amendments allowing the presence of foreign troops in Ukraine, as part of an international peacekeeping force. The law also has the provision to let the country have weapons of mass destruction stationed there.
At present, 380 American and 75 British troopers are training Ukrainian soldiers, but in the autumn members of the Canadian military could join their ranks. The two-year agreement was reached at a meeting of Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak and his Canadian counterpart Jason Kenney on Saturday, RIA Novosti reported.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on Wednesday: "We are doubling up our training of Ukrainian forces. We've already trained around 650. By this autumn we will have trained nearly 1,000," as cited by Reuters.
"We've already been training in battlefield medicine, infantry skills, logistics, in tactical intelligence," Fallon added.
Earlier this month, Poroshenko said Russia has used the Donbass region as a testing ground for its modern arms.
“We are fighting with 20th century weapons against 21st century weapons. Russia is using Ukraine to test their latest models,” said Poroshenko.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has recently estimated the number of Ukrainian refugees at over 900,000 people. The report on Friday names Russia and Belarus as states that have received the majority. Germany, Poland and Italy have also become host countries.
RT’s Murad Gazdiev reported from the town of Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region that Ukrainian checkpoints, dividing the war-torn region from the rest of the country, can see queues of up to five kilometres, in temperatures as high as 30C. A recent decree from Kiev has banned the transport of more than 50 kilograms of goods to the eastern territories, and only Swiss vans with humanitarian aid are able to pass the checkpoints with relative ease, according to Gazdiev.
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“I’m a lawyer myself, and had a look at their new order: it forbids the transportation of petrol, and things like that. I understand why petrol, it could be used by military vehicles. But it also bans transporting medication. What do drugs have to do with war? People desperately need them,” a man, who wished to remain anonymous, told RT.
Over 6,400 people have been killed since Kiev’s anti-terror operation broke out last April in eastern Ukraine. A total of 1.35 million Ukrainians are now designated as internally displaced persons, according to UN estimates.