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17 Aug, 2016 10:53

Russia to honor servicemen who died defending Crimea from Ukraine terrorist plot

Russia to honor servicemen who died defending Crimea from Ukraine terrorist plot

Russia will award top state honors to two military servicemen killed in a gunfight with a group of Ukrainian infiltrators planning to launch terrorist attacks in Crimea, national media report.

The Kommersant business daily, quoting a source in security services, for the first time disclosed the names of the Russian servicemen who were killed when a group of Ukrainian saboteurs carrying explosives attempted to cross the Russian-Ukrainian border and enter Crimea on August 7.

The men have been named as Lieutenant Colonel Roman Kamenev and Private Semyon Sychov. Kamenev is recommended for the Hero of Russia honorary title – the top state award – and Sychov for the Order of Courage award.

READ MORE: Russia will not use military force in reply to Kiev’s attempted terrorism in Crimea – report

The source also gave details of the operation in which Russian border guards prevented Ukrainian saboteurs from launching terrorist attacks on Crimean territory.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) received information about infiltration plans by Ukraine on August 6. An operative group led by Kamenev was deployed to the location of the planned breach, and when they spotted the movement of Ukrainian agents the Russian commander ordered them to surrender. The Ukrainians replied by fatally shooting Kamenev, with the Russian side returning fire and killing at least two of the saboteurs and detaining three more. The rest of the group fled back to Ukrainian territory.

Private Sychov was killed in a separate gunfight which took place several hours later when a Russian detail discovered another armed group attempting to cross the border with Ukraine. The group opened fired on the Russian soldiers and injured Sychov, who later died in an ambulance.

The source said the Russian servicemen were restricted in their actions and could not shoot at the retreating Ukrainians because they did not want to hit the homes of civilians on the Ukrainian side of the border. He also said that the three detained Ukrainians are attempting to shift the blame for the Russian servicemen’s deaths onto one another, which makes their testimonies confused.

On August 10 the FSB reported that it had successfully prevented terrorist attacks in Crimea which it says had been planned by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence agency.

According to the FSB, the infiltrators were planning to blow up a highway as motorcades carrying local officials and federal authorities were driving by. Explosive devices and ammunition used by the Ukrainian Army’s special forces were discovered at the scene, the FSB said.

A short time later Russian security agents detained two more people in Crimea on suspicion of collaboration with Ukrainian saboteurs, with those detained allegedly planning to help the infiltrators to safely return to Ukrainian territory after carrying out the attacks.

READ MORE: Exclude Ukraine from UN over thwarted terrorist attacks, says Crimean official

Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the FSB report, saying that Kiev had turned to the “practice of terrorism,” adding that this has made any talks with the Ukrainian regime pointless. “I think it’s obvious that Kiev’s current authorities are not seeking ways to solve problems through negotiations, but have turned to terrorism,” Putin said, adding that this new development was alarming.