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“According to some reports, the number of Ukrainian troops in the conflict zone has already reached 125,000 personnel,” she claimed, saying that this represented half of Kiev’s troops.

The comments followed the Ukrainian foreign ministry saying Tuesday that Russia has massed 115,000 troops around Ukraine, on the Crimean peninsula—which Moscow annexed in 2014 -- and in two eastern regions occupied by the breakaway fighters.

Kiev and its Western allies have long accused Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists—claims Moscow denies—who seized the territory shortly after Russia annexed Crimea.

The conflict, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives, escalated at the beginning of the year and saw Russia deploy around 100,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders in the spring.

While Moscow later announced a drawback, Ukraine and its ally the United States said at the time that the withdrawal was limited.

Washington has routinely in recent weeks warned that Russia could cite a trumped-up provocation by Ukraine as an excuse to launch an assault, an allegation the Kremlin has denounced as hysteria.

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