Ukrainian defense minister in Vilnius: Russia building up forces at Ukraine’s border

Stepan Poltorak
LRS / Olga Posaškova

In the minister’s words, Russia has established two armed corps with 36,000 troops in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are out of Kiev’s control, in addition to 3,000 Russian regular troops stationed in Eastern Ukraine.

“At the same time, Russia continues to increase the number of it’s forces deployed closer to the border area between Russia and Ukraine, and number of forces is constantly growing. All of that indicates the aggressive intentions and plans of Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine,” Poltorak said at a Vilnius news conference held after meeting with Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis.

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In the Ukrainian minister’s words, “you won’t find even a single day when there would be no violations of ceasefire (on the) part of terrorists and Russian regular forces” in Eastern Ukraine.

Poltorak thanked Lithuania for its support, especially the contribution of military instructors. He said Ukraine was interested in Lithuania’s experience in consolidating NATO standards in Armed Forces, adding that Ukraine was ready to share its experience, as well.

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In Karoblis’ words, Lithuania’s assistance to Ukraine is evolved “from one-time trips into a broad training mission.”

Lithuania has provided Ukraine with weaponry elements and munitions it no longer uses, also providing medical treatment to injured Ukrainian troops in Lithuania.

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Moscow-supported separatists seized parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces back in 2014 during the overthrow of Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych. The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Russia has been denying deployment of regular troops in the region, accusing Ukraine for violations of the ceasefire.

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