French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Barack Obama

French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Barack Obama meet to discus Ukraine at the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport. (POOL,, REUTERS / September 4, 2014)


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO believes Russia still has around 1,000 soldiers inside Ukraine despite some cuts in troop numbers since a ceasefire began there on Sept. 5, a NATO military officer said on Tuesday.

"Since the ceasefire we have seen reductions, but we still assess that around 1,000 Russian combat troops are currently fighting inside Ukraine," the officer said, on condition of anonymity.

"They are equipped with hundreds of combat vehicles and artillery. This Russian combat force has all it needs to continue undermining stability in eastern Ukraine in the days ahead," he said.

Russia continued to provide combat and logistical support to separatist positions in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, he added.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier on Tuesday that Russia needed to increase its military presence on the Crimea peninsula due to the crisis in Ukraine, news agencies reported. Russia's annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in March.


(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Hugh Lawson)