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Poroshenko Says Ukraine To Keep Defense Spending High

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says his government will spend five percent of gross domestic product on defense and security next year, in a bid to strengthen the army in its fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east.

Poroshenko said on December 2 that his government plans to spend about 14 percent of the government budget, or 100 billion hryvnyas, on defense and security in 2016.

Ukraine spent 90 billion hryvnyas ($3.75 billion) this year.

The conflict has killed more than 7,900 people so far. After a period of relative calm, both sides have complained of increased cease-fire violations and use of heavy artillery that was meant to have been withdrawn under the terms of a truce deal.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on December 2 that there is a "real risk" hostilities will flare up again in eastern Ukraine.

"Russian-backed separatists have not yet withdrawn their troops and equipment, illegal groups in eastern Ukraine have not been disarmed, and Ukraine has not been able to reestablish control over its border," he added.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters