More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers have abandoned their military posts and crossed into Russian territory, stating that they refuse to fight against their own people, a Russian Federal Security Service spokesperson said.
At least 41 Ukrainian soldiers have made it to Russian territory after asking self-defense forces for help, the spokesperson from the Federal Security Service’s Rostov region border patrol unit, Vasily Malaev, told Itar-Tass.
“At around 20:30 Moscow time, 41 Ukrainian soldiers left their military bases and arrived at the Ukrainian border crossing checkpoint Izvarino. They appealed to the militia there for help to with cross into the Russian territory, in connection with the fact that they do not want to fight against their own people,” Malaev said.
All of the soldiers were able to cross into Russia at the Donetsk checkpoint, the spokesperson added.
A Kiev official confirmed on Sunday that over 40 soldiers abandoned their military posts and crossed into Russian territory, local Ukrainian media reported.
“Indeed, this took place,” Ukrainian minister of defense, Valery Geletey, told Inter TV channel. Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered an investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, a Russian hospital near the Ukrainian border has been treating wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Some of them have expressed their unwillingness to fight for the Ukrainian army, blaming mobilization laws for forcing them to do so.
“I wouldn’t want to. We don’t know who we are fighting. I have no animosity towards Russians. I am not a nationalist, I am not Right Sector,” Ivan, a Ukrainian soldier, told RT.
“What right do they have to make us fight? I was mobilized, I received wounds to my hands and now I have to go and fight again with cardboard equipment. They reuse old ammunition and make money off us. The country is falling apart, but for them everything is fine,” he added.
Another soldier questioned the purpose of the military offensive, adding that it is not even clear who the enemy is.
“It is all so confusing, who is fighting who and how and what for isn’t clear. Who are these separatists? What do they look like? We don’t know,” Ukrainian soldier Sergey said.
Two other Ukrainian soldiers – major and senior warrant officers – were also among those who fled to Russia and said they intend to apply for Russian citizenship, according to Malaev.
Ukrainian soldiers claim that high-ranking officers rarely come to the frontline, and when they do they try to leave as soon as possible – preferably before dark – RT’s Roman Kosarev reported from Donetsk.
“Millions of dollars have already been spent by Kiev on its punitive action against those they call terrorists. While the country’s leadership ordered yet another mobilization round of its citizens into active armed forces…morale of the soldiers on the ground and the collapsing parliament could become a barrier for their operation target,” Kosarev added.
Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovnaya Rada, approved this week a presidential decree authorizing the limited mobilization of army reserves and material, which will be used to reinforce units fighting in the east of the country. This was part of the Ukrainian president’s peace plan, which involves a unilateral ceasefire by government forces in eastern Ukraine.
On Friday, mothers and wives of Ukrainian soldiers sent to fight in eastern Ukraine kneeled during a demonstration, asking President Petro Poroshenko to end the military offensive.