Did Russians Take 311 Ukrainian Soldiers Prisoner?
As the civil war in Ukraine continues to rage, the boundaries of the war evaporate day by day. One day the rebels are virtually wiped out, and another it seems Ukraine might collapse. The BBC reported
A Ukrainian security spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said the 311 soldiers and border guards “had to cross into Russian territory” at the Gukovo checkpoint in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine is trying to get them back now through diplomatic channels, he said.
Earlier a Russian security official said 438 Ukrainian troops had been given refuge in Russia as “defectors”.
A Russian border security official said more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers crossed into Russia, according to a report from the Interfax news agency. It wasn’t immediately clear why the soldiers entered Russia, with both sides giving conflicting accounts.
The Russian official said the soldiers deserted the Kiev government and the Russian side opened a safe corridor, while a Ukrainian military official said the soldiers, without giving a number, were forced into Russian territory by rebel fire after running out of ammunition.
Vasily Malayev, head of the Federal Security Service’s border patrol in the Rostov region, told Interfax that 438 Ukrainian soldiers had reached Russia on Monday. He said the Russian side had allowed the soldiers to safely enter the country.
Russia’s Defense Ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The Ukrainian military confirmed that part of a brigade had most likely crossed into Russian territory, although it disputed Russia’s version of events and wouldn’t say how many soldiers went over.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said troops from the army’s 72nd brigade were penned into their position and came under a sustained barrage of fire from separatist forces. Rebel fighters used tanks, mortars, artillery and Grad missile launchers over four hours, Dmitrashkovsky said, and eventually the brigade was forced to divide up into two sections.
The flow of information out of the war zone has been iffy at best, and the Russian state-owned media cannot be trusted to provide an accurate description of the events. The only thing that is for certain is that the war is increasingly violent, with new and terrifying weaponry being used. We can only hope that the United States will step in and try to help the struggling Ukrainian army shake off the rising red tide.