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Up to 10,000 Russian soldiers still in Ukraine: Kiev

17 december 2014, 11:18

 Up to 10,000 Russian soldiers and their heavy weapons are still deployed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine despite a new ceasefire, a top Ukrainian military commander said Tuesday, AFP reports.

"The number of soldiers of the Russian Federation is between 6,000 to 8,000, though according to some sources it is up to 10,000," General Staff commander Viktor Muzhenko told reporters.

Close to 50,000 Russian soldiers are also stationed along Ukraine's eastern border, where heavy weaponry has continued to flow in since the December 9 truce started, he added.

The ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels was introduced in hopes of ending an eight-month conflict that has claimed at least 4,700 lives and displaced close to one million people, the UN said Monday.

Kiev and the West have repeatedly accused Russia of sending troops into Ukraine to back local rebels. Moscow denies this.

Muzhenko also claimed Moscow has continued to ship heavy weapons and reinforcements to the rebels since the start of the ceasefire, including troop transports, armoured vehicles, tanks and artillery.

Despite the isolated bombardment of Ukrainian positions, the ceasefire has been holding, Muzhenko said.

"The amount of bombardment with heavy weapons -- Grad multiple rocket launchers, artillery, mortars -- has considerably decreased to two to three times per day," he added.

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