Russia investigates use of conscripts in Ukraine operation
Russia’s military acknowledged involvement of conscripted troops into the ongoing operation in neighboring Ukraine on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, we have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in the units of the Russian Armed Forces participating in a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, has said.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that only professional soldiers have been involved into the operation. Ukrainian officials and Western media alike, however, have claimed that the invasion force had a vast number of conscripts in its ranks.
Nearly all the conscripted troops have already been withdrawn from Ukraine, Konashenkov said, adding that the military is currently investigating how they ended up participating in the operation in the first place to make sure that it would not happen again. He also admitted that the conscripted troops sustained casualties during the conflict, with some of the servicemen ending up captured by the Ukrainian troops.
“A saboteur group of a nationalist battalion attacked one of the units performing the logistical support tasks. A number of servicemen, including conscripts, were captured,” Konashenkov stated without providing any specific figures.
Russia launched its large-scale military operation in neighboring Ukraine in late February, explaining it was the only option left to protect Donetsk and Lugansk. President Putin also outlined that the aim was to “denazify” and “demilitarize” the country. Kiev branded the attack “unprovoked”, claiming it had no plans to re-take the regions by force.
Donetsk and Lugansk split from Ukraine back in 2014 following the Maidan coup in Kiev, which ousted the country’s democratically elected government. The new Ukrainian leadership launched a military operation to quell the rebellion that ultimately devolved into years violence in Ukraine’s east.