‘Up to 180 foreign mercenaries’ dead in Ukraine after precision strike – Moscow
An air strike on Ukrainian military training facilities in the early hours of Sunday has resulted in the liquidation of “up to 180 foreign mercenaries,” the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced.
The strike, conducted with use of “high-precision long-range weapons,” targeted “the training centers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” in the village of Starichi and at Yavoriv polygon.
According to the ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov, these facilities served as “a base for the training and combat coordination of foreign mercenaries before they were sent to the combat zones to fight against Russian military personnel.” The sites were also being used to store, as Konashenkov put it, “weapons and military equipment coming from foreign countries.”
“As a result of the strike, up to 180 foreign mercenaries and a large quantity of foreign weapons were destroyed,” Konashenkov said.
He went on to warn that the destruction of foreign mercenaries arriving in Ukraine “would continue.”
Konashenkov’s claims were dismissed by Ukraine as “propaganda.”
“This is not the truth. Pure Russian propaganda,” Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Markiyan Lubkivsky told CNN.
In a message to the US TV channel, Lubkivsky said there were no foreigners confirmed among those killed at the Yavoriv base.
Earlier on Sunday the head of the Lviv regional military administration Maxim Kozitsky claimed that at least 35 people had been killed and more than 130 injured during overnight shelling of the Yavoriv military range, also known as the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security.
He claimed that around 30 missiles had been fired, with some “shot down in the air” by Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Alexey Reznikov confirmed there were some foreign instructors working at the center.
Ukrainian authorities earlier called on foreign volunteers to join the country’s armed forces in their fight against the “occupiers” and even announced creation of a special “foreign legion.”
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.