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Russian mercenaries deployed to eastern Ukraine


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alexander Borodai, Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ attends a news conference in Donetsk, June 21, 2014. Pro-Russian separatists attack Ukrainian garrison on the border with Russia and a military base, and

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By Maria Tsvetkova and Anton Zverev

Four sources told Reuters.

In recent weeks, Russia has deployed tens of thousands of regular troops to outposts near Ukraine and has subsequently demanded urgent security guarantees from the West designed, Moscow says, to deter Ukraine. and other neighboring countries are used as bases for attack. .

For their part, the West and Ukraine accuse Russia of launching a new attack on its southern neighbor as soon as next month, which Moscow denies.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and backs pro-Russian separatists, who seized an industrial region of Donbass, eastern Ukraine that same year and continue to fight government forces. Ukraine is here.

Of the four sources, three describe their offers from mercenary recruiters to the Donbass. They said employers did not disclose who they represented. All four sources declined to be named, citing concerns for their safety.

Two out of three sources said they accepted; the third said he refused.

“There’s a full house. They’re gathering all those with combat experience,” said one of the two acceptors.

He said he had previously fought in Ukraine and Syria for groups of Russian security contractors whose activities were tied to Russia’s strategic interests. He declined to identify the contractor.

The fighter said he was planning to join mercenaries on the Russian side of the border with the separatist-held Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin says it has nothing to do with private Russian military contractors, who it describes as volunteers with no connection to the state.

“This is the first time we’ve heard of this and we don’t know how reliable these claims are,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Peskov said there are no regular Russian forces or military advisers in eastern Ukraine and have never been there, and Moscow is not considering sending any. Kyiv opposes that and says Russian military forces are regularly present.

SPECIAL TRAINING

Alexander Ivanov, head of the International Community of Officers for Security, a non-governmental group representing Russian contractors in the Central African Republic, said he “doesn’t have a single confirmation” that any soldiers Russian mercenaries have been deployed to Ukraine.

Three of the sources said they were not aware of any plans for a new Russian attack on Ukraine or of preparations indicating an impending attack.

One of the sources, a contractor who has been involved in Russian operations abroad and has been to eastern Ukraine, said the deployment was for defensive purposes. The first mercenary said the same thing.

Another source said he was not directly involved in the deployment but was in contact with those on the ground undergoing special training. He said the purpose of the deployments were what he called sabotage operations aimed at undermining stability in Ukraine.

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) declared independence from Ukraine in 2014 after separatist fighters took control of parts of eastern Ukraine. Backed by Russia, its self-proclaimed status is not internationally recognized. Alexander Borodai, a former DPR prime minister and head of the Donbass Volunteer Union, said his organization is not involved in recruiting any mercenaries for eastern Ukraine.

Members of his organization had previously fought in Ukraine and Syria.

“If and when necessary, we will call everyone – but there are no calls yet,” said Borodai, who is also a lawmaker for Russia’s ruling party, United Russia.

Separatist party spokesman Eduard Basurin said he was unaware of Russia’s recent deployment of security contractors to eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military intelligence service declined to comment, while the state security service did not respond to a request for comment.



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