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Militia say Kiev forces' grouping of troops in Donbas built up to 90,000

August 20, 2015, 20:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The troops are concentrated in four sectors - Mariupol, Donetsk, Debaltsevo, and Luhansk

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Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk Region, Jul. 14 2015

Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk Region, Jul. 14 2015

© AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. On Thursday, August 20 the grouping of pro-Kiev armed units in eastern Ukraine totaled 90,000 men and officers, 450 tanks, 203 salvo artillery units, and five Tochka-U missile complexes, Eduard Basurin, a top official at the Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic told the Donetsk News Agency.

The troops are concentrated in four sectors - Mariupol, Donetsk, Debaltsevo, and Luhansk.

"A total of five separate mechanized brigades, two separate tanks brigades, and air mobile brigade, an artillery brigade, and a salvo system brigade have been deployed ... to advance to Mariupol," the official, Eduard Basurin said. "All in all, this grouping has 22,500 men and officers, more than 130 tanks, more than 560 armored cars, fifty-five salvo artillery units, about 200 artillery guns and mortars, and about 720 antitank weapons."

According to the data available to the Defense Ministry, the pro-Kiev forces have concentrated thirteen brigades one tank brigade, one air mobile, one artillery, one salvo system brigade and two air mobile brigades in the Donetsk sector. A brigade equipped with Tochka-U tactical missiles has also been deployed there.

As many as five separate mechanized brigades, a tank brigade, three artillery brigades, and a salvo system brigade are currently located in the Debaltsevo sector. This grouping has up to 19,500 men and officers, about 70 tanks, 45 salvo artillery systems, and about 230 artillery guns and mortars.

A grouping of four separate mechanized brigades, two artillery brigades and a salvo artillery system brigade is poised to advance towards Lugansk. It has a combined 18,000-strong manpower, about 60 tanks, about 530 infantry combat vehicles and/or armored personnel carriers, 30 multiple-launch (salvo) systems, close to 230 artillery guns and mortars and more than a thousand antimech weapons, Basurin said.

Reconnaissance data available to the DPR defense officials suggests the Ukrainian Army commanders have pooled a considerable reserve of forces consisting of two tank, four air mobile, three artillery brigades, one airborne and one salvo artillery system brigade.

Kiev plans to encircle Donetsk

Basurin said earlier on Thursday that the Defense Ministry of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has information that the Ukrainian armed forces are preparing an offensive in the Donetsk Region in east Ukraine.

"Information has been received about the plan of forthcoming actions by the Ukrainian army from a source in the Ukrainian General Staff and, no matter how strange this may seem, there are still true officers there who do not want to fight against their own people," Basurin said at a briefing in the press center of the Donetsk News Agency.

According to Basurin, the Ukrainian military will launch an offensive in the Mariupol and Debaltsevo directions after "artillery shelling of the DPR’s positions."

"Kiev plans to deliver two converging blows in the direction of the settlement of Uspenka to defeat the DPR and advance to the border with Russia and subsequently prevent civilians from reaching the Russian territory," Basurin said.

"Along with this, two groupings [of Kiev’s forces] are intended to launch an offensive in the Donetsk direction north and south of Donetsk towards Ilovaisk, close the circle around the republic’s capital and encircle the city," the spokesman said.

In the Luhansk direction, Kiev’s forces are planning to hold separate combat operations against the militia of the Luhansk People’s Republic to prevent their redeployment to provide support to the DPR, the spokesman said.

"Further on, active offensive operations will be launched in the Luhansk direction with the aim to advance to the border with Russia," Basurin said.

According to the DPR Defense Ministry, Kiev hopes this blitzkrieg will help it crush the militia and destroy the Donbass republics.

"At the same time, it would be nice to remind these ‘wise guys’ in the Ukrainian General Staff that the attempts to carry through such ‘Napoleon plans’ were made before but all this ended in the encirclement of the Ukrainian troops near Izvarino and Ilovaisk where a great number of Ukrainian soldiers died," the DRP Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine’s embattled east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, launched in mid-April 2014 to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

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