Separatists In Eastern Ukraine Ask Russia For 30,000 Troops And Military Equipment
MOSCOW - A separatist commander in separatist controlled Eastern Ukraine has asked Russia to send 30,000 troops and military equipment to help the separatist forces fight against 'a potential Ukrainian offensive' which was originally claimed by Andrey Turchak without providing any evidence according to both The Moscow Times and Reuters.
Alexander Khodakovsky pleaded with Moscow for the 30,000 troops and military equipment on top of the 30,000 fighters they currently have, though only 10,000 of those fighters are reportedly 'fit for frontline duties' according to Reuters.
"We need to have at least 40,000, but 40,000 with automatic rifles on the frontline" Khodakovsky told Reuters in an interview but made it clear that he was requesting 30,000 on top of the 10,000 they already had that was deemed fit for frontline duties.
According to The Moscow Times, the Kremlin has not yet commented on Khodakovsky's request for additional troops and equipment but last month Andrei Turchak, a Russian ruling party lawmaker petitioned the Kremlin to send weapons and military equipment to the separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine.
"Russia should provide [the separatists who hold parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions] with the necessary assistance in the form of the supply of certain types of weapons to increase their defensive capability" Turchak stated, claiming that Kyiv is planning an offensive in the region without providing any evidence to support his claims.
Russian Spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to the request saying that such a proposal would "underscore the intensity of the problem" and that giving the separatists weapons would be 'something new', meaning that Moscow had never given this type of aid to the separatists before.
Peskov's response is in line with Moscow's claim that Russia does not supply the separatists in Donbass, but that claim has been rejected by both Kyiv and the West with a large amount of evidence that Russia has in fact supplied the separatists in Eastern Ukraine military forces, weapons and other kinds of military support.
According to Radio Free Europe, Ukrainian military analyst Mykhaylo Zhirokhov stated that Russia has provided military equipment 'since the beginning of the conflict', although generally Russia sends older soviet era equipment that separatists would then be able to say they captured it from the Ukrainian military.
"Those Russian groups...are armed with contemporary weapons. But only Russian military personnel get them. There is not a single piece of modern equipment under the control of the [separatist] armed formations" Zhirokhov stated.
He also said that the latest talk by Russia regarding providing military equipment to the separatists are 'an effort to legitimize the presence of the Russian Army' in Donbass, and said "They aren't going to provide any modern weapons to the fighters. As far as I understand, this is the basic position of the political and military leadership in Russia".