WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States cannot provide the precise number of Russians allegedly fighting in eastern Ukraine, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told journalists on Thursday following claims by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko about 9,000 Russian soldiers operating in Ukraine.
“It is hard to put an exact number given the Russian government actively tries to camouflage who they are sending in and weapons they are sending in. We know there is a large number of Russians there fighting with the separatists,” Harf said.
The spokesperson added that Washington is concerned about ongoing attack in the Donbass region.
In an address to the Ukrainian parliament earlier on Thursday, Poroshenko reiterated claims over alleged presence of Russian 'tactical combat groups' in contested regions of eastern Ukraine, and stated that the threat of full-scale military activities in eastern Ukraine remains.
Kiev forces have been fighting independence supporters in Ukraine’s eastern regions since April 2014, with western countries blaming the unfolding of the conflict on Moscow.
In February, the warring sides agreed to a ceasefire in Minsk but since then consistent reports from both sides about truce violations have been released.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in Ukraine’s internal matters and has been calling on diplomatic resolution of the crisis.