Separatists battling government troops in eastern Ukraine plan a general mobilization and aim to boost their fighting force to 100,000, one of their main leaders said yesterday.
Leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Alexander Zakharchenko was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the mobilization would take place next week.
“A general mobilization is planned in the DNR in 10 days. Ten thousand men will be called up,” RIA news agency quoted Zakharchenko as saying in the city of Donetsk, though he did not make clear how the mobilization would be enforced.
“The joint army of the DNR and the [Luhansk People’s Republic] LNR will be 100,000 men strong,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. “Mobilization is the first stage; there will be volunteers first and we will see what to do next.”
Zakharchenko — elected in a vote that was not recognized by Kiev or the West, did not say how many separatists were currently fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting has increased in eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks and hopes of easing the situation faded after talks on Saturday between Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe collapsed.
Representatives of the two self-proclaimed republics sought a revision of peace accords and were “not even prepared to discuss” a ceasefire, the organization said.
However, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for a truce on Sunday in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, according to a statement on the Ukrainian leader’s Web site.
Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko said that the separatists should be encouraged not to block talks and Russia must use its influence on the rebels to this end, according to an e-mailed statement from German government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
Meanwhile, five soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov told reporters in Kiev yesterday. Rebel forces attacked Ukrainian troops 104 times during that period, he said.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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