Russia says Ukraine has deployed half its army to Donbass conflict zone

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova listens during the annual news conference of the Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Russia accused Ukraine on Wednesday of deploying half of its army or 125,000 troops to Donbass, a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been battling Russia-backed separatists since 2014.

The accusation was levelled by Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova during a briefing in Moscow. There was no immediate response from Kyiv.

Russia has said it is worried about Ukrainian intentions as tensions between Kyiv and Moscow spike over Western fears about a new Russian attack on Ukraine, something Russia has dismissed as fear-mongering.

Zakharova also commented on an offer by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for Ankara to serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine. She said that offer did not refer to the conflict in Donbass between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

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Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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