Ukraine announces defence hike plans amid fighting in east
The Ukrainian Government has announced plans to raise the country's defence spending by an estimated 50% over the next three years.
Speaking during a military parade in Kiev marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed to spend an additional UAH40bn ($3bn) to modernise the country's armed forces by 2017.
Poroshenko said: "It is clear that in the foreseeable future there will always, unfortunately, be the threat of war.
"And we not only have to learn to live with that. We must always be prepared to defend our independence."
The additional funding is expected to be spent from 2015 on the acquisition of ships, aircraft and vehicles and other equipment for the Ukrainian military.
The Ukrainian defence ministry was cited by breakingnews.ie as stating that the country's current defence budget is nearly €1.1bn.
Requests for additional resources are believed to have been placed by Ukrainian military leaders in the wake of prolonged fighting against pro-Russian insurgents in the country's east.
The budget hike announcement comes days before Poroshenko and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to meet for preliminary peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, alongside other European Union leaders.
The Ukrainian military parade featured several hundreds of soldiers, tanks and other armoured vehicles.
In an apparent mockery of the country's Independence Day celebrations, anti-government protestors paraded captured Ukrainian soldiers and military vehicles through the streets of the industrial city of Donetsk.
According to the UN, the Ukrainian conflict has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced over 340,000 since its start in mid-April.