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NATO: Russian troops remain in Ukraine, along border

By
Aileen Graef
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reported Wednesday about 70 percent of Russian troops had withdrawn from Ukraine. UPI/Ivan Vakolenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reported Wednesday about 70 percent of Russian troops had withdrawn from Ukraine. UPI/Ivan Vakolenko | License Photo

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- There are still about 1,000 Russian troops in eastern Ukraine and 20,000 along the border, despite reports that Russian troops have withdrawn.

A NATO officer said the organization observed the location, number of the troops and Russian military equipment via satellite images Thursday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told his cabinet Wednesday about 70 percent of the Russian troops in the country had left.

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This was seen as a positive sign of goodwill toward upholding the ceasefire, but the unnamed officer told CNN NATO considers these numbers to amount to a "large and effective" military force.

Further threatening the ceasefire is the continued defense against the "insurgency" in Ukraine, which Russia considers as resistance to the truce. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich told reporters Thursday that peace is "very fragile."

"There is mounting evidence of the Kiev government strengthening its military groups in different areas, regions; there are eyewitness reports to prove it, though Ukrainian authorities keep on reassuring us that they're not planning a military operation," he said. "This might cause the escalation [of the situation] and put the progress in peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine under threat."

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