Russian paratroopers have been captured in the Donetsk region of Ukraine having “crossed the border by accident” according to Russian military sources. A Ukraine government spokesman said ten Russian soldiers were captured.
Ukrainian television carried a lengthy report that included video excerpts of the interviews with the captured soldiers and claimed that they were from the 331st regiment of the 98th Svirsk airborne division. One of soldiers said “this is not our war”, whilst another, claiming to be Sergeant Andrei Generalov, said: “Stop sending in our boys. Why? This is not our war. And if we weren’t here, none of this would have happened. They would have sorted things out with the government themselves.” Russia emphatically refutes any suggestion that it is involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine or that it is giving military assistance to the rebels. The facts on the ground do not support Russia’s innocent stance. The excuses that come from the Russian government are all one dimensional and weak, such as “The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border [and] crossed it by accident on an unmarked section” leaving you wondering if they have ever heard of briefing their troops or equipping them with GPS.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s security service said that the paratroopers had been captured over 20km into Ukrainian territory near the village of Dzerkalne, some 50km from the city of Donetsk. Andriy Lysenko a Ukrainian military spokesman said: “This wasn’t a mistake, but a special mission they were carrying out.”
The Ukrainian and Russian presidents are meeting in Minsk, Belarus to try and come to an agreed settlement over the war, though having the last dictator in Europe, President Lukashenko, hosting it is something of an irony. With rigged elections and the opposition ‘marginalised’ in a judicial way, it is the last bastion of anti-democracy that is wholly in Europe. Putin will wistfully ask himself why he can’t have in Russia the autocracy that Lukashenko has in Minsk. Or maybe that is what Putin is really aiming for.