Ukrainian MPs vote for bigger army despite truce deal
Iran Press TV
Thu Mar 5, 2015 6:59PM
Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a new bill aimed at increasing the number of the army troops fighting with pro-Russia forces in the country's eastern regions despite a truce pact between the two warring sides.
The legislative proposal, which was passed on Thursday, calls for a 250,000-strong military force that would include 204,000 active servicemen, compared to the existing 184,000.
According to local press reports, 270 of the 314 parliament members participating in the Thursday session voted in favor of the new law.
The development came after Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Petro Mekhed stressed the need for boosting the size of the armed forces operating in the country's volatile east.
Mekhed further said the number of troops would be reduced after the crisis in the east is settled.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense Serhiy Pashynskyy also declared that the nation's army and its number of combat units would be increased "as a matter of priority."
The bill has to be signed into law by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who proposed the measure.
On Wednesday, Ukraine's First Deputy Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy stated that he had discussed details of "non-lethal" US military supplies to the Ukrainian army while on a recent visit to Washington.
This is while both Ukraine and the pro-Russian forces have announced their withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines, which was one of the requirements of the truce deal that came out of the negotiations in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk last month.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the eastern Ukraine have been hit by deadly clashes between the pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia protests there.
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