Ukraine has accused two Russian servicemen it said it captured of being part of a special forces group that had killed and wounded Ukrainian servicemen in fighting in its eastern regions and said they would be prosecuted for “terrorist acts”.
The Ukrainians seized on the capture of the two Russians, both wounded, to boost their accusations of direct Russian military involvement in the separatist conflict despite a ceasefire signed in February.
However, Russia denied any role there.
In a video posted online by the Ukrainian interior ministry, one of the prisoners gave his name as Alexander Alexandrov.
He said that he had been on a spying mission as part of a 14-member “dirty tricks” group from the central Russian town of Togliatti.
“We were discovered. I was wounded in the leg as I tried to get away... We’ve been here four to five days,” he said.
The capture and possible prosecution of the two Russians and the potential embarrassment for Russia’s Vladimir Putin come as the US and the EU press Moscow to fully implement Minsk peace accords as a step to ending the crisis.
More than 6,100 people have been killed and Russia-West ties plunged into crisis since pro-Moscow separatists rebelled against a pro-Western leadership taking power in Ukraine more than a year ago. Russia accuses Kiev of violating the truce.
Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko alluded to a similar previous incident and the explanation offered then by Putin.
“The leadership of the Russian Federation will have difficulty saying that these guys just got lost,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked to comment, said: “Both we and the defence ministry have said multiple times that there are no Russian servicemen in Donbass.”
Donbass is the colloquial term for Ukraine’s industrialised east, glorified in Soviet times as the motor of Soviet economic progress.
One Ukrainian soldier was killed in the fighting at Shchastya near the city of Luhansk on Saturday while some Ukrainian state security officials had been wounded, state security chief Valentyn Nalivaychenko told journalists.
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