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Ukrainian defense chief hints that Kiev may ramp up use of force in Donbass conflict

April 23, 13:01 UTC+3 KIEV

The Ukrainian defense chief says that during the first stage, the number of troops in Donbass would remain unchanged, but admitted that a decision on a military buildup may be made later

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© Stepan Petrenko/TASS

KIEV, April 23. /TASS/. Ukraine may go for a ‘use of force’ game plan to resolve the conflict in Donbass if this goal is set, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said in an interview with BBC Ukraine on Monday.

The defense chief explained that during the first stage, the number of troops in Donbass would remain unchanged, but admitted that a decision on a military buildup may be made later.

"If the situation gets more complicated or a decision is made to liberate the territory, then certainly the number of personnel would have to be beefed up," Poltorak noted, commenting on Kiev’s recent decision to change the format of the military operation in Donbass starting from April 30.

At the first stage of the new operation, the Joint Forces will take steps to "stabilize the situation" in the conflict zone and the number of troops which Kiev has in Donbass would be enough to fulfil this task, he noted.

Poltorak said earlier that the ministry had gotten the military authorities ready to carry out missions in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. He stressed that the security officials’ key goal would be to "liberate the territory from ‘occupiers’ and protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity."

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said on April 13 that under the law on Donbass’ reintegration the current strategy of the military operation in the region, the so-called anti-terrorist operation, would be changed to the Operation of Joint Forces on April 30.

The new game plan is expected to "bring drastic changes" to managing the military structure giving Ukraine’s army additional powers and control over units of the National Guard, the Security Services and the National Police.

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