Separatists in eastern Ukraine ‘to mobilise 100,000 men’

Pro-Russian separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine plan a “general mobilisation” under which thousands of men will be called up, one of their main leaders was quoted as saying on Monday.

Separatist news agency DAN reported that Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, had said that the call-up would mobilise as many as 100,000 men. It was unclear, however, how the recruitment would be handled.

"There will be general mobilisation in the (separatist) Donetsk People's Republic in 10 days' time, we plan on mobilising up to 100,000 men," the separatist leader was quoted as saying.

Zakharchenko, who was elected in a vote in November that was not recognised by Kiev or the West, did not say how many separatists were currently fighting in east Ukraine.

Ukraine, NATO and Western governments say they have evidence that Russia has sent troops and weapons to back the separatists but Moscow denies this. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko put the number of Russian troops in the east last month at 9,000.

Fighting has increased in eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks and hopes of easing the situation faded after peace talks collapsed on Saturday.

Ukraine has also mobilised more troops because of the surge in fighting.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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