Kiev claims arrest of 2 Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian authorities say its security forces have detained two Russian servicemen in the conflict zone in the country’s turbulent Lugansk Region.
“Two Russian servicemen have been arrested. Our investigators are interrogating them,” Andrey Lysenko, Kiev military campaign spokesman, told Interfax-Ukraine.
The soldiers are being held in a secret location. Lysenko promised the two will appear before the press and answer all questions on Tuesday.
Earlier, a fighter from the Ukrainian Aidar volunteer battalion wrote on Facebook that two Russian soldiers had been arrested in the town of Schastye in the Lugansk Region on May 16.
Their names are said to be Evgeny Erofeyev and Aleksandr Aleksandrov from the 3rd Special Purpose Brigade of GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff) based in the city of Togliatti in central Russia.
The Russians were reportedly injured in a gunfight, which preceded their arrest, and received treatment from Ukrainian medics.
During interrogation, Erofeyev and Aleksandrov allegedly said they were Russian military servicemen and had arrived in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on May 15.
Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) representatives said the soldiers were members of the LPR militia, not the Russian military, and presented their IDs to back the claim.
The Russian State Duma has called for an inquiry to establish if Erofeyev and Aleksandrov were really serving in the Russian Army.
Russia’s Defense Ministry hasn’t yet commented on the reports.
The Kiev authorities and their Western backers blame Russia for supporting the rebelling eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk with weapons and manpower.
Those claims have been repeatedly denied by Moscow, which keeps stressing it is not a party to the Ukraine conflict.
“We and the Defense Ministry have stated on numerous occasions that there are no Russian troops in Donbass,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Monday.
The fighting in Ukraine began last April after the eastern regions refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities in Kiev.
After a year of fighting, the death toll in the Ukrainian conflict has exceeded 6,100 people, according to UN estimates.
The violence has been on the decline since the signing of the Minsk peace deal in February, but little progress has been made in finding a long-term solution that would restore peace in the country.