posted at 03:50
Author Name: Katherine Haddon
Kiev says Russia has 7,500 troops in Ukraine
The latest declarations from Ukraine's defence minister threaten to provoke fresh Russian anger as the government in the former Soviet state flags its allegiance to the West ever more clearly. "Unfortunately, the stabilisation of the situation in the east of Ukraine does not depend only on us," Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said in a statement. "The presence of 7,500 representatives of Russian armed forces in Ukraine destabilises the situation and prevents us from stabilising it." His comments came after Ukraine's new coalition declared that joining NATO was a priority and stipulated that a law be passed by the end of the year confirming the country's intention to push for membership. NATO, a military alliance of 28 nations including the US, this week warned of a "Very serious build-up" of Russian troops, artillery and air defence systems inside Ukraine and on the Russian side of the border. In the latest batch of US assistance to Ukraine, three radar systems designed to detect incoming mortar fire were delivered Friday following a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. President Barack Obama has so far ruled out providing weapons and ammunition to Ukraine and instead approved the delivery of "Non-lethal" assistance such as radars, night vision goggles, and body armour. Ukraine's military on Friday accused Russia of shelling its territory for the first time since the ceasefire was signed.

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