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Kremlin Backtracks On Putin's Comment About Military In Eastern Ukraine

The Kremlin is accusing NATO and Kyiv of "misinterpreting" a remark made by President Vladimir Putin about the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking about the conflict in eastern Ukraine on December 17, Putin said: “We have never said that there are no people there involved in resolving some certain issues, including those related to the military sphere. But this does not mean that there are regular Russian troops there. Feel the difference."

Many -- including Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg -- interpreted Putin's words as an admission that Russia sent military personnel into eastern Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on December 18 that Putin was referring to Russian volunteers fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists.

Peskov reiterated Moscow's claim, despite widespread evidence to the contrary, that there are not active Russian military personnel in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax

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