Ukraine using convicts for new nationalist battalions – Moscow
Ukrainian authorities have released convicts from prisons in the Kharkov Region, in the north east of the country, and used them to assemble several new military units, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Thursday.
“In Kharkov, the formation of three new nationalist battalions is being completed, staffed by prisoners, who have served sentences for grave and extremely grave crimes at the Alekseevskaya and 43rd correctional colonies,” Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the National Defense Management Center, said during a briefing.
The main tasks of these battalions would be blocking the city from the south in order to prevent the civilian population from leaving Ukraine’s second largest urban centre and also targeting the units of the Ukrainian armed forces in case they try to retreat or surrender to the advancing Russian military, he insisted.
According to Mizintsev with this move, the Kiev government has once again demonstrated its inhumane carelessness towards the fate of the Ukrainian people and its complete neglect of international humanitarian law.
He has called upon the UN, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and the International Red Cross to “take urgent measures and influence the Ukrainian side so that civilians could be saved.”
Since the start of the conflict, Russia has many times accused Ukrainian forces of placing military hardware in residential areas in Mariupol and other locations and using civilians as human shields. Numerous reports have also emerged of nationalist units operating as barrier troops and shooting at fellow Ukrainian servicemen to prevent them fleeing the battlefield.
Russia launched a large-scale offensive against its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since 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.