Ukraine rebels to recruit 100,000; US may help govt

MOSCOW: Separatists battling government troops in east Ukraine plan a general mobilization and aim to boost their fighting force to 100,000 men, one of their main leaders said on Monday. Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the mobilization would take place next week.

“A general mobilization is planned in the DNR in 10 days. Ten thousand men will be called up,” RIA news agency quoted Zakharchenko as saying in the city of Donetsk, though he did not make clear how the mobilization would be enforced.

“The joint army of the DNR and the LNR will be 100,000 men strong,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, a senior US administration official said on Monday that President Barack Obama is reconsidering sending lethal assistance to Ukraine, but continues to have concerns about the effectiveness of that step and the risks of a proxy war between US and Russia. The US has limited its supplies to the Ukrainian military to non-lethal aid.

A decision on escalating aid is not imminent, the official cautioned, adding that Obama would want to first discuss the issue with European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to visit Washington next week. Merkel said on Monday that Germany won’t provide weapons to Ukraine and prefers economic sanctions and negotiations to “solve or at least mitigate the conflict”. agencies