Russia Sends ‘Defensive’ Mercenaries to Ukraine’s Eastern Region
Reuters reported Thursday that Russia has sent mercenaries to eastern Ukraine to assist pro-Russian rebels defend against Ukrainian government forces.
He said that Ukraine was planning to strike pro-Moscow areas in eastern Ukraine known as the Donbass. In recent weeks, the West has warned that Russia may attack Ukraine as early as January.
Earlier this week, the independent Meduza news website revealed that Russian recruiters had begun assembling mercenaries for a “combat mission” in Donbass.
Reuters reports that Russian mercenaries are being trained in Donbass for defensive and sabotage objectives.
“They are gathering everybody with combat experience,” one of the mercenaries told the news agency.
Reuters stated that the fighters were unaware of Russian strike intentions. He stated he planned to join fighters on the Russian side of the border with the separatist-held Luhansk province.
Separatist leaders denied knowledge of or involvement in the new recruitment push.
The Kremlin denied formal connections with Russian private military contractors in eastern Ukraine, claiming they are there voluntarily.
“It’s the first we’ve heard of this and we don’t know how reliable these assertions are,” Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
Reports say US private military organisations have personnel stationed in eastern Ukraine for “provocations with unidentified chemical components.”
Both Russia and the US have indicated they are ready to start negotiations on Moscow’s broad security requests as early as January.
Faced with allegations of massing tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border, Russia last week delivered a proposed list of demands to the US, which includes preventing Ukraine from joining NATO.
Washington has said it is willing to examine some of Russia’s concerns, but it “will never agree” to its other requests.