EN|RU|UK
 Incidents
  290

 'Russian soldiers' captured in Ukraine to face trial on terrorism charges, - The Guardian

Pair were seized in government-controlled Shchastia and could face life sentences if found guilty.

This is informed by The Guardian, Censor.NET reports.

Two alleged Russian soldiers who were captured while fighting in eastern Ukraine will be tried on terrorism charges, Kyiv has said.

They could reportedly face sentences of up to life in prison if found guilty of committing a lethal terrorist act. The defence ministry announced it would allow journalists to speak with the captured men in Kyiv later on Monday.

The men's capture is likely to further strain relations with Moscow and will call into question once again Russian denials of military assistance to separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has killed at least 6,100 people since April 2014.

Read more: Russia tried to kill captured Russian soldiers, Ukraine says

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Kyiv's "anti-terrorist operation", said on Sunday that two Russian soldiers had been captured in Shchastia, a government-controlled town near the rebel stronghold of Luhansk. The police chief of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic said Ukrainian forces had captured two militia members named Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev.

In a YouTube video posted by the Ukrainian MP Anton Herashchenko, one of the captured men identified himself as Sergeant Alexander Alexandrov of the Third Brigade of the Russian special forces, based in Tolyatti, Russia. Speaking to two interrogators from a hospital bed, he said he had been deployed to Ukraine in March and named several other men from his unit.

On Monday at a televised press conference in Kyiv, the commander of Ukraine's 92nd Brigade, Viktor Nikolyuk, gave further details. He said a skirmish broke out between his forces and an enemy special forces reconnaissance unit that included 14 Russian servicemen on Saturday afternoon. Two Russian soldiers were wounded and later captured, and one Ukrainian soldier was killed and another wounded.

Read more: Captured Russian special forces servicemen Captain Aleksandrov and Sergeant Yerofeyev testified on their brigade's involvement in war against Ukraine. PHOTOS

Nikolyuk displayed an automatic rifle that he said had been confiscated from Yerofeyev. The wounded soldiers were carried off the battlefield under fire, given first aid, brought to a hospital and then interrogated, Nikolyuk said.

Kyiv has long-insisted that Russian soldiers are fighting in eastern Ukraine, but Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have insisted their troops are not present there. The most that Moscow will admit is that Russian volunteers could be fighting there.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on whether the two captured fighters were Russian servicemen. "We have repeatedly said, and the defence ministry has too, that there are no Russian soldiers in Donbas," he told journalists, using a traditional name for the coalmining areas of eastern Ukraine.

Read more: Russian special forces operatives Y. Yerofeyev and A. Aleksandrov taken prisoners in the battle near Shchastia. PHOTOS

Addressing himself to Putin in a Facebook post, Herashchenko offered to exchange the two captured men after their trial for 400 Ukrainians held by the separatists and for pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who is being held in pre-trial detention in Moscow. But the security service chairman, Valentin Nalyvaichenko, later said such a prisoner exchange was not under consideration.

In August, Kyiv exchanged 10 captured Russian paratroopers whom the Kremlin claimed had accidentally wandered into Ukrainian territory for 63 Ukrainian soldiers who had crossed into Russia to flee fighting.

According to evidence gathered by the media and soldiers' rights advocates, Russian troops have been mobilised en masse to fight in eastern Ukraine twice. In August and September, a large contingent of Russian troops - a rebel leader said at the time that 1,200 military personnel and 150 pieces of equipment had arrived from Russia - reportedly helped rebel fighters turn back a Ukrainian advance that had made it to the outskirt of Donetsk and Luhansk. In January and February, Russian tank units reportedly spearheaded the capture of the strategic transport hub Debaltseve.

Read more: Kyiv has no desire to resume military operation in Donbas, Nuland says

But Russian trainers and special forces have also been operating in eastern Ukraine in smaller numbers throughout the conflict, according to media reports. In October, a group of men in Russian military uniforms told a reporter that they were Russian soldiers who had come to Luhansk to train the local population.

Separately on Monday, the newspaper Kommersant reported that a Russian conscript had appealed to the European court of human rights after army authorities denied his request to perform civilian rather than military service, which by law can be allowed to those whose personal beliefs prohibit them from fighting. In the first such case to be brought to the court, Sergei Kholkin said he had refused to join the military out of fear that he would be sent to fight in eastern Ukraine.


Source: The Guardian
 
 
 
 up