Kiev is not considering the option of using force to regain control over the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said Wednesday.

In 2014, Ukrainian authorities launched a special military operation in the country’s southeast, after local residents refused to recognize the new authorities in Kiev, which took the power as a result of what many considered as a coup, and established the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR and LPR).

“We are not considering the issue of resolving the issue of seizing the territories of Lugansk and Donetsk by force,” Poltorak told the Deutsche Welle broadcaster.

In February 2015, the warring parties to the Ukrainian conflict signed the Minsk peace accords in order to cease fire in the crisis-torn region. Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, as the members of the Normandy Four, helped negotiate the Donbass ceasefire. It has been, however, repeatedly breached, with the conflicting sides accusing each other of violating the ceasefire regime.

A total of 2,655 Ukrainian servicemen were killed since the start of the country’s military operation in the Donbass region, Poltorak stated.

“[As many as] of 2,655 servicemen died defending Ukraine,” Poltorak said.

Over 10,000 Ukrainian nationals were killed and over 20,000 others injured during the conflict, Poltorak said, adding that Ukraine also lost approximately 16,600 square miles of land.

In April, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshekno said that 69 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and over 420 soldiers were injured in Donbas since the beginning of 2017, whereas the total of 2,652 servicemen were killed since the conflict started.

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