A Ukrainian soldier in an area near the rebel-held city of Donetsk on April 3
Reuters news agency on December 1 reported that Russia accused Ukraine of deploying half of its army to deal with opposition forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
The news came amid heightened tensions between the two countries and NATO, which met on Monday to discuss Moscow’s troop concentration near the border, worried Kiev.
“Ukraine’s military is consolidating its military strength, bringing in equipment and personnel,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Citing some information, Ms. Zakharova said that the number of troops in the conflict area had increased to 125,000, “equal to half of the Ukrainian army”. The Ukrainian military declined to comment on the report.
|Ukraine conducts massive military drills amid tension with Russia|
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was concerned about Kiev’s buildup of forces in the Donbass region and that he would discuss the situation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a meeting in Sweden on December 2.
On the same day, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the start of its winter drills with the participation of 10,000 troops at more than 30 training grounds, including Crimea and an area in Russia close to the Donbass region.
Russia’s ally Belarus also announced joint exercises with Russia on the southern border near Ukraine.