KIEV, Ukraine - Russia has removed the bulk of its forces from Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian president, raising hopes for a peace drive now underway after five months of conflict in which more than 3,000 people have been killed. Moscow denies sending troops into eastern Ukraine and arming the pro-Russian rebels, despite what Kiev and its Western backers say is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
President Petro Poroshenko told a televised cabinet meeting Ukraine would remain a sovereign, united country under the terms of a peace road map approved last Friday, but said parts of the east under rebel control would get special status. "According to the latest information I have received from our intelligence, 70 percent of Russian troops have been moved back across the border," Poroshenko said. "This further strengthens our hope that the peace initiatives have good prospects." However, Poroshenko said the cease-fire was not proving easy to maintain because "terrorists" were constantly trying to provoke Kiev's forces. Ukraine's military recorded at least six violations of the ceasefire overnight but said there were no casualties.
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