Ukraine crisis: Russian soldiers captured in conflict area crossed border 'by accident'

Group of 10 Russian soldiers were captured in east of Ukraine

Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces crossed the border accidentally, a source from Russia's Defence Ministry has reportedly claimed.

Ukrainian security services released video footage yesterday of 10 Russian paratroopers it claimed were captured by government forces while fighting alongside pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country.

The footage, which is likely to fuel allegations from Kiev and its Western allies of Russian involvement in the war, appeared on the day the Russian and Ukrainian leaders have met for talks in the Belarussian capital to try to end the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko reportedly greeted each other with a handshake at the start of talks, marking the first time the two presidents have met face-to-face since June.

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According to the Novosti news agency, a defence military source insisted that the cross-border incursion was a mistake.

“The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossed it by accident on an unmarked section, and as far as we understand showed no resistance to the armed forces of Ukraine when they were detained,” the source said.

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One of them, who identified himself as Ivan Milchakov, listed his personal details, including the name of the paratroop regiment he said is based in the Russian town of Kostroma.

“I did not see where we crossed the border. They just told us we were going on a 70km march over three days,” he said.

“Everything is different here, not like they show it on television. We've come as cannon fodder,” he said in the video.

 

Another man in the footage, who gave his name as Sergeant Andrei Generalov, said: “Stop sending in our boys. Why? This is not our war. And if we weren't here, none of this would have happened. They would have sorted things out with the government themselves.”

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Russia denies giving military help to the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

The 10 paratroopers have been detained with their personal documents and weapons near the small town of Amvrosiyivka in Donetsk region, the Ukrainian state security service said.

"Officially they are on military exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality they are involved in military aggression against Ukraine,“ Ukraine's Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey said in a Facebook post.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko claimed the Russian men crossed into Ukrainian territory on a "special mission".

Video: Ukraine and Russia hold peace talks

Mr Lysenko said separatists were attacking the southeastern border town of Novoazovsk "at this very minute" and Ukrainian forces had destroyed 12 armoured infantry vehicles in the area.

He claimed four border guards had been killed by Russian Mi-24 helicopters, and three had been injured.

Yesterday, Ukraine's president dissolved parliament and called for elections on October 26 as his country continues to battle a pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern regions.

Prior to this, the Ukraine military said a column of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles crossed into south-eastern Ukraine, away from where most of the intense fighting has been taking place.

russian-soldier4.jpg Meanwhile, Russia announced plans to send a second aid convoy into rebel-held eastern Ukraine, where months of fighting have left many residential buildings in ruins.

Russia’s dispatch of more than 200 aid convoys into Ukraine on Friday was denounced by the Ukrainian government as an invasion, even after they returned to Russia without incident the next day.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed reports of a Russian incursion into Ukraine, describing it as ”dis-information“ by the authorities in Kiev.

Additional reporting by agencies

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