Gaubert and Siohan, who have been living in Ukraine for more than a year now, told their story to Apostrophe, Censor.NET reports.
In August 2014, Stéphane Siohan and his colleagues found themselves in Starobesheve after the Ukrainian army had left the settlement. In one of the streets, they met a group of military wearing no insignia, who behaved very politely and quietly.
"Suddenly, shells started arriving. We, four journalists and the military, hid behind a concrete wall. They were not nervous but smiled and worried perhaps only about our safety. Shells exploded very close; when it got quieter, we were told to go away while we could. We asked: "Where is Donetsk?". But the military did not know where they were, had no idea of the local geography. Three days before, the Ukrainian army had captured Russian soldiers who allegedly got lost [Kostroma paratroopers captured on Aug. 24 - ed.]. Probably, it was one and the same group," Stéphane Siohan said.
According to the French journalists, during the months of work in non-government controlled territories, they often encountered people whose exact titles and military affiliation was difficult to tell, while their behavior left no doubt they were current or former servicemen of the Russian army.
"We have enough evidence proving Russia's presence in Ilovaisk, Debaltseve, Savur-Mohyla. There are satellite images, there is military equipment which is not to be found in a supermarket, there is evidence of people who saw professionals, very organized, similar to the military. There is always a certain number of Russian troops in the occupied territories. Obviously, the number grows during active hostilities - they are redeployed there for military operations. Talking about Vladimir Putin's sending all forces to Syria as a chance to reclaim the Donbas is very dangerous today. There's always enough military ready to quickly reinforce militants. It is proven by Ilovaisk and Debaltseve. Russia's career officers also train the army, the police, and security services of the self-proclaimed republics," Sébastien Gaubert explained.