- Associated Press - Sunday, August 24, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine’s president has vowed to boost military spending by 40 billion hryvnia ($3 billion) in the next three years as government forces seek to overpower pro-Russian separatists in the east.

President Petro Poroshenko made his pledge Sunday during a speech marking Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Kiev’s Independence Square, Poroshenko says the country would increase military spending by $3 billion by 2017. The Ukrainian defense ministry says its existing 2014 budget is $1.5 billion.

Ukraine’s military has pleaded for more resources to oust pro-Russian rebels, who still hold two major cities in the east, Donetsk and Luhansk. The United Nations estimates that the eastern fighting has claimed 2,000 lives since April.

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