Rebels held large-scale military exercises in Eastern Ukraine

© REUTERS/ Alexander Ermochenko
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The Russia-backed rebels held large-scale military exercises in the east Ukraine amid reports of renewed fighting.

Separatists in eastern Ukraine said  “It’s just part of the learning process, we are improving the process … today revealed a small part of our capabilities”.

During the exercises used T-64 tanks, BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, BMP-2 Infantry fighting vehicles  MT-LB multirole tracked vehicles, mortars and other weapons.

From the beginning of March 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian and anti-government groups took place in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, together commonly called the “Donbass”, in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the Euromaidan movement.

These demonstrations, which followed the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and which were part of a wider group of concurrent pro-Russian protests across southern and eastern Ukraine, escalated into an armed conflict between the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR respectively), and the Ukrainian government.

Prior to a change of the top leadership in August, the separatists were largely led by Russian citizens. Russian paramilitaries are reported to make up from 15% to 80% of the combatants.

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