LUHANSK, May 22 (RIA Novosti) – Over 6,000 troops under the control of the Kiev authorities are stationed near the country’s eastern city of Luhansk, though they are demoralized and calling for negotiations, the Head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) Valery Bolotov said Thursday.
“According to our estimates, their number [number of Ukrainian forces] exceeds 6,000 and over the past few days the figure has been growing,” Bolotov said, adding that the Ukrainian army was deploying to Luhansk not only troops, but also heavy armament and special equipment for river crossing operations.
At the same time Bolotov said that “Ukrainian forces are demoralized and call for negotiations.”
The eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk has been the scene of violent clashes between government soldiers and protesters following the beginning of a large-scale military operation by the Ukrainian government in mid-April. Both sides have suffered numerous casualties.
Though the Ukrainian parliament approved a so-called memorandum of peace and consent on Tuesday, calling on the return of troops stationed in eastern Ukraine to their permanent bases, the special operation in the region is still underway.
On May 11, the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics held referendums on self-determination, with over 90 percent of voters supporting greater autonomy. Following the vote, the republics went ahead with the establishment of new local government agencies and announced they would not take part in the upcoming May 25 snap presidential election.