Currently in the Donbas there are roughly 32,000 people belonging to the regular armed formations of the Russian Federation. In 2014-2015, the mentioned formations were reformatted into the first and second army corps, said Ukrainian Chief of General Staff Viktor Muzhenko in an interview with BBC News Ukraine.
“We are saying that there are regular Russian military groups there, reformatted as early as the end of 2014 and in 2015 into the first and second army corps. The total number of these troops is roughly 32,000. There are also more than 700 tanks, guns, and artillery systems,” Muzhenko said.
He added that currently an increase is being observed in the material reserves of those fighting in the Donbas for the Russia-backed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR).
“That is, convoys are coming from Russia, transporting material resources, including ammunition. Interestingly, these are not groups of the so-called LPR/DPR, they are regular divisions, who according to their management system are subordinate to the 8th Combined Arms Army, stationed in Novocherkassk. In addition, there are mercenaries, as well as soldiers from the regular Russian Armed Forces,” he said.
He also explained that, the day before negotiations or important meetings concerning the war in the Donbas, the number of shots fired by the militants increases.
“Over the last four years we have been clearly monitoring how the number of shots grows leading up to negotiations or important meetings. This takes place either before meetings in the Normandy Format, or negotiations between the leaders of the countries which influence the situation. Then there is a certain reduction, and this kind of cycle has been discernible for all four years,” Muzhenko observed.
Since the start of the Joint Forces Operation in eastern Ukraine on April 30, 2018, the Armed Forces have regained control of 15 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory. As reported by Joint Forces Commander Serhiy Nayev, the Yuzhne (Donetsk province) and Zolote-4 (Luhansk province) settlements have been brought back under the Ukrainian control.