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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 455
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Calls For Release Of 'Former' Spetsnaz Soldiers, Allegedly Withdrawing Others From Ukraine
5 years
Protests At Home Base Of Captured Russian Soldiers

Russia's state-owned TASS news agency reports that the Russian Ministry of Defence has called on Ukraine to release the two soldiers captured near Schastye yesterday, despite denying that they are active members of the Russian armed forces.

General-Major Igor Konashenkov, official spokesman for the MOD, said (translated by The Interpreter):

"We have examined the reports from the Ukrainian side: these boys have indeed previously served in one of the units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and have military training. Moreover, I can confirm that we have been approached by the leadership of the Association of Special Forces Veterans with a request to go through official channels to the Ukrainian General Staff to stop the abuse of their comrades by the SBU while beating out their favourable testimonies."

The Kremlin is therefore claiming that these troops are retired soldiers while still treating them as their own. While one of the captives said (possibly under duress) in their interrogation (which was recorded and uploaded to the internet) that they were still serving soldiers, Russian troops have frequently been discharged before deployment to Ukraine, so as to maintain plausible deniability.

Konashenkov then said:

"I would like to remind you that during the civil war in south-eastern Ukraine dozens, even hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen and fighters from the so-called 'territorial' battalions have been repeatedly detained on the territory of the Russian Federation."

The MOD spokesman claimed that the treatment of these prisoners had been fully in accordance with international law and they had been allowed to return to their families. Such a claim seems at odd with the capture in Ukraine and subsquent illegal rendition to Russia of Ukrainian soldiers like Nadezhda Savchenko.

However Konashenkov has been granted license to say that Ukraine is violating international law by the invitation of journalists to interview the captured Russian troops.

Article 27 of the fourth Geneva convention states that prisoners of war must be protected "against public curiosity." 

Ukraine's TSN television channel interviewed both prisoners, Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeniy Yerofeyev, in a hospital in Kiev.

While Aleksandrov stated in the aforementioned interrogation video (which we again note may have been conducted under duress) that he was a soldier from the 3rd Spetsnaz Brigade from Togliatti, his commander, Yerofeyev, told TSN that he was a militia fighter from Lugansk.

Meanwhile, Ukrainska Pravda reports that the Ukrainian General Staff has claimed that Russia was now withdrawing its special forces from the town of Bryanka, near the front line in the Lugansk region.

According to the announcement, made on the Ukrainian MOD website this evening, Russian special forces troops were being withdrawn to their bases of permanent deployment.

The MOD claimed that a transport aircraft had arrived at an airbase in Millerovo, Russia, near the border with Ukraine, which would soon take spetsnaz troops to a base in Samara.

The Interpreter translates:

"It is remarkable that the redeployment of Russian special forces began as soon as the Ukrainian side demonstrated to the whole world the undeniable fact of the presence of Russian servicemen in eastern Ukraine.

By doing so, the Russian Federation is attempting to hide the fact of the presence of their servicemen on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugtansk regions and their participation in military operations against Ukrainian soldiers." 

-- Pierre Vaux