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Military Capabilities

Russian forces ‘now 11,000 strong in the Donbass’

06 October 2017

Key Points

  • Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor has detailed the Russian contingent now supporting the separatists in the country’s Donbass region
  • Anatoly Matios says the number of Russian nationals now fighting in the region has reached 11,000

The number of Russian nationals fighting alongside the separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region now totals 11,000, including 3,000 regular combat troops, according to an assessment given to Ukraine’s 112 TV channel on 2 October by Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Anatoly Matios.A February 2015 exhibition in Kiev of equipment the Ukrainian government claimed proved Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine, although this type of MBT, the T-64BV – probably returned to service from storage by the Russians – is actually also in Ukrainian service. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)A February 2015 exhibition in Kiev of equipment the Ukrainian government claimed proved Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine, although this type of MBT, the T-64BV – probably returned to service from storage by the Russians – is actually also in Ukrainian service. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

He provided a detailed list of the numbers and types of Russian weaponry and specific units in the Donbass that updates a report released in March by the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre. The March report declared that Ukraine “is ready to prove that the Russian Federation continues to violate international law, abuses human rights, and supplies deadly assistance to illegal armed groups in Ukraine that have committed numerous terrorist attacks”.

Russian forces in Ukraine, often referred to as ‘Little Green Men’, have been in the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Lugansk since early 2014, following the Russian invasion and occupation of Crimea.

According to Matios, the Russian volunteer units possess 650 tanks, 1,310 armoured combat vehicles, almost 500 pieces of artillery of various calibres (including large-calibre artillery proscribed by the Minsk agreements), almost 260 multiple rocket launchers, and up to 100 anti-aircraft missile systems. He stressed that these are all Russian weapons that were transported into Ukraine from outside the country.

In addition to these numbers, “the Russian Federation is currently represented in the Donbass with an almost 3,000-strong [regular] force consisting of two battalion-tactical groups and a tactical group which, besides the weapons mentioned, also has almost 200 tanks, 400 APCs [armoured personnel carriers], 140 artillery pieces, and the latest types of anti-aircraft missile systems”, said Matios.

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