Ukraine Liveblog Day 190: Russian Paratroopers Captured In Ukraine

August 26, 2014
Ivan Vasilyevich Milchakov, a Russian paratrooper captured by Ukrainian forces yesterday. Photo: SBU

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costs.

View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.

What Happened at the Minsk Talks?

President Vladimir Putin and President Petro Poroshenko met today within the framework of a summit meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union, to which the European Union was invited.

A photo of the group showed Ukraine in the middle, turned West, away from the East.


A bilateral meeting between the two leaders was cancelled.

The Reuters photo drew a lot of comments not only because of Putin’s
expression but the expression of Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan.

The BBC set the scene in a story early today:

The meeting comes amid rising tension between the two countries over
Ukraine’s military campaign against pro-Russian separatists.

Ukraine said on Monday that its troops had captured 10 Russian servicemen in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly denied supporting the rebels.

More than 2,000 people have died in months of fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The two regions declared independence from Kiev following
Russia’s annexation of the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in

The US was not invited and stayed out of the talks.

The US sent 2,000 bullet-proof vests and some first-aid kits to the Ukrainian military in July.

The follow is a round-up of tweets which tell the story:

Ukrainian CNSD Refutes Claims of Russian Incursion, But Confirms Russian Military Convoy at Gukovo
Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defense has refuted the claims we reported earlier by UNIAN that Russian forces have entered Ukrainian territory from Taganrog, Information Resistance reported, citing Ukrainska Pravda. But Lysenko has confirmed the Russian convoy at Gukovo.

Lysenko spoke on ICTV’s program “Freedom of Speech”. The Interpreter has a translation:

The information on the breakthrough of the [Russian]
convoy from the direction of Taganrog does not correspond to reality.
There is no such column. I talked with border guards literally an hour
ago, and with the staff of the ATO [anti-terrorism operation] — this
convoy has not been established. No one has seen it.

there is information that in the area of Gukovo, which is Rostov
Region, there really is a convoy consisting of approximately 100
military vehicles. These are tanks, BMPs and Grad systems, trucks with
ammunition and transport of the personnel. This convoy has really been
established, but it has not crossed the border into Ukraine. It is being

Earlier we reported a Russian convoy filmed in the Ukrainian town of Sverdlovsk headed toward Lugansk, which we were able to geolocate.

We are also attempting to verify a video of another separatist convoy reported today in Donetsk. [Update: this is an older video of Vostok battalion taken some time ago.]

Russian Troops Taking Over Ukrainian Border Towns: Eye-Witnesses

UNIAN has published a report of a Russian military convoy with 30 tanks and 2 BTRs headed to Novoazovsk, where we have been reporting fighting in the last two days.

Dmitry Snegirev, head of Prava Sprava (Right from the Right), a civic group, has told UNIAN that local residents and members of his organization have eye-witness reports of another Russian convoy. About 21:00 local time, a convoy of about 100 military vehicles crossed through Russia’s Gukovo checkpoint in Rostov Region into Ukraine. Apparently part of this convoy is now spotted headed toward Novoazovsk.

Ukrainian journalist Roman Bochkala reports on his Facebook page that Russian forces have invaded Ukraine from the direction of Taganrog. Border guards and fighters in volunteer battalions in the region are reporting as follows:

From the direction of Russia, 30 tanks, light-armored vehicles and troops have entered. They are 8 kilometers deep into Ukrainian territory. They control 6 border villages. In particular, Markino, Shcherbak, Roza Luxemburg. The occupiers are setting  up checkpoints, leaving 3 tanks and 2 BTRs at each one as well as a platoon of personnel and then advancing further. Shots can be heard in the suburbs of Novoazovsk.

Russian military are not hiding the signs of their presence in the seized territories. Right behind them from the territory of the Russian Federation have come representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic. They ask the local population to endure the “unstable situation” for a few days and promise that then “everything will be fine, we will have our own republic.”

Ukrainian soldiers are forced to retreat under the pincer of artillery fire and also Grads. There are losses among the border guards and the fighters of the territorial defense battalions and also those who are severely wounded. Our fighters ask for back-up and heavy vehicles. Otherwise, they cannot hold Novoazovsk, they say. If they lose Novoazovsk, the road to Mariupol, according to them, will be open.

Intense Shelling Reported In Novoazovsk, Where Russia’s ‘Invasion’ Was Reported Yesterday

As we’ve been reporting for two days, yesterday a Russian armored convoy reportedly crossed the border near Novoazovsk (map) and was headed towards Mariupol before it was stopped by the Ukrainian military. Earlier we also carried a report that Reuters spoke to residents who confirm the presence of Russian tanks, and Reuters reporters found impact craters from artillery shells which show that the shells likely came from the northeast — from Russian territory.

Today reporters in Novoazovsk report that the area has been heavily shelled.

A video shows some of the aftermath, apparently damaging a hospital:

RT’s “Ruptly” news service has also carried video of the shelling:

It matches video taken by others in the area:

‘Little Green Men’ Reported In Donetsk Village

Reuters reports that unidentified, heavily armed men in unmarked uniforms, with Russian accents, have appeared in the village of Kolosky, near the border in the Donetsk region.

Here is an excerpt from the report: 

The two witnesses who spoke to Reuters said the armed men did not have any insignia on their uniforms or vehicles that would explicitly identify them as Russian troops, but they said there were more subtle signs.

Dmitry Chistyukhin, a resident of Kolosky, said some of the men were trading their military-issue ready-to-eat meals with villagers for home-made preserved fruit and vegetables. He said the writing on the ration packs was Russian, not Ukrainian.

They had painted over identifying marks on their military vehicles with white circles, he added.

When residents approached their checkpoint and asked if they were allowed to travel on to the next village, called Komsomolske, the armed men asked, according to Chistyukhin: “Where’s that?”

“The people at the new checkpoint, they were polite military men wearing green. Definitely not Ukrainian. They’re definitely not from around here,” he said.

‘Polite green men’ was the tongue-in-cheek term coined by many Russians to describe Russian soldiers, with identifying insignia removed, who arrived in Ukraine’s Crimea region before Moscow annexed it in March.

Another witness, Alexei, who was in Kolosky on Monday, said that the armed men, when asked who they were, told residents only that they had come “to protect them”.

That was an answer given by Russian military officers after they first seized state buildings in Crimea.

“It looks like direct invasion,” said Alexei.

He said he and a friend counted what they said was 38 armored personnel carriers, 2 fuelling trucks and numerous military transport vehicles full of people in Kolosky and the immediate vicinity.

Heavy shelling around the village began as soon as the armored cars arrived, though Alexei said it was not clear who was doing the shelling.

Both said they first saw new military hardware on Sunday, which included anti-aircraft systems as well as artillery guns.

Video Shows Column of Russian Vehicles, Manned By Chechen Fighters, On Ukraine’s Border

In the video below, an enormous column of Russian military vehicles is seen in an unidentified location. The dialogue suggests that they are waiting to enter Ukraine. We have not yet been able to geolocate the video, but we note that there is a column of smoke visible at around 24 seconds in.

The men speaking in the video identify themselves as Chechens.

Amongst the vast quantities of military hardware seen are T-90 tanks, MT-LB armoured personnel carriers and 2S19 Msta self-propelled artillery.

The men are speaking in Chechen, however the uploader
has provided a Russian translation in the closed captions of the video.
We were able to confirm that the Chechen-language content of the video
matches the Russian sub-titles, and that no location is mentioned within
the video.

Here is a translation of the Russian closed captions:

[Cameraman]:These guys are going to go on the attack to bring out those who have been left inside.

This whole host is going in to bring out all the dead and wounded.

You can’t see the beginning and you can’t see the end [of the column]. Yes, invisible.

We’re ready to go in.

Allahu akbar…

Everything is in the hands of the Almighty. We will try to
return home. And if we do not return forgive us. We are full of courage
to go forward. 

Allahu akbar…

These are Chechen lads here too.

These tankers are Chechens.

[Tank crewman]: The war is underway, we’ll make the Ukrainians shit themselves.

And all these guys are ready to cross the Terek. 

And we will rip apart those fascists.

Protect us Almighty from all evil.

[Cameraman]:Allahu akbar.


The copy  of this video which we originally found from the uploader indicated has been removed from YouTube; a second copy was also removed.

We were able to find yet another copy of the same video to replace it,
and confirmed again that the weapons are shown as indicated, the
dialogue is in the Chechen language, and has been translated accurately
as indicated above from the Russian.

Powerful Russian Armored Convoy Spotted In Ukraine Headed Toward Lugansk – Complete With T-72 Tanks

An extremely powerful armored convoy has been spotted today rolling through Sverdlovsk today. Spotted in this convoy — a significant amount of firepower including:

– 4 MT-LB amphibious axillary vehicles, two equipped with anti-aircraft guns, Zu-32-2s (like this).

– 4 T-72 battle tanks. The presence of these in the convoy is effectively proof that these are Russian military armor, since Ukraine has not used T-72s in their offensives in the east.

– 3 transports towing field artillery pieces (likely a D-30 122m, howitzer) – note that these have become ubiquitous and have been spotted, nearly uniformly outfitted with the same tarps, on both sides of the border.

– A 9k35 Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile system. Again, there is no evidence that any of these have been captured by the separatists.

2 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles.

We believe that this video was taken exactly here (map):


As the camera zooms out at the 2:46 mark, the sidewalk (yellow line on the map) can be seen. The cameraman says that these vehicles are moving towards Krasnadon. In fact, according to the geolocation above those vehicles are coming from the southeast and are moving northwest, though the road ultimately takes a turn to the north beyond the city of Sverdlovsk, which would ultimately bring it to Krasnadon and perhaps on to Lugansk. 

As many journalists have spotted Russian armor moving across the border near Izvarino because of the presence of Russia’s ‘aid convoy’ there, it appears that the Russian military — and this is almost certainly Russian military equipment — sent this convoy through a more southern border crossing where there are fewer journalists.

Relatives of Russian POWs Gather in Kostroma; Further Details on Capture by Ukrainians
Relatives of the Russian prisoners-of-war from the 98th Guards Airborne
Division currently held in Ukraine have gathered at their original base
in the Russian city of Kostroma and are awaiting a meeting with the
commander of the unit, reported, citing one of the relatives.

commander has promised to meet with the relatives today, August 26. The
ten POWs are from the 98th guards, originally based in Kostroma and
Ivanovo, and were detained near the village of Zerkalnoye in Donetsk
Region, 20 kilometers from the border.

The POWs were interrogated and it was established that they were sent to Rostov-on-Don last week by rail.

The Interpreter reported 23 August that a Russian military convoy was spotted on the railroad 20 August by a citizen who uploaded a video to YouTube.

original group consisted of 350-400 men, with an artillery division, a
scouting regiment, about 30 IVFs, 18 Nona artillery systems and about 60
other vehicles. The detainees were dressed in Russian army uniforms
without insignia and wore additional masking. The identifying numbers on
the vehicles were painted out green and also white circles were placed
over them, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

One POW, Ivan Romantsev said during an interrogation
that they were ordered to depart from Kostroma on August 16, and were
told they were going on a mission. They reached Rostov and set up camp
outside the city. They were told to paint over the numbers on the
military vehicles with white circles, and were told that this would be
used in a training exercise to distinguish competing sides.

Russian soldiers were roused on the night of 23-24 August and sent on a
march, and ordered to keep radio silence. They crossed the border at
Ilovaysk, but two armored vehicles got separated from the group; one was
destroyed according to Ukrainian spokesmen.

Senior Lt. Mikhail
Milenko, commander of the platoon, ran away from battle and went into
hiding, leaving his subordinates behind. They decided to try to break
out on their own but wound up surrounded soon afterward and were forced
to surrender to the ATO [anti-terrorist operation] forces.

Ukrainian Defense Ministery Valeriy Heletey, in a post on his Facebook page, urged relatives to find out where their relatives were in reality and to take them away from Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the soldiers were patrolling the border and got lost, ITAR-TASS reported.

Murakhovsky, a military expert and colonel in the reserves told RBC
that in the psat, Russia has released Ukrainian POWs to Ukraine without
any conditions when they had crossed the border into Russian territory,
and he believed Ukraine should follow suit. Otherwise, Russia would
likely not release Ukrainian soldiers found on Russian territory.

Artillery Fire Near a Russian Cross-Border Incursion Could Only Come From Russian Territory

Yesterday the big story was the claims made by the Ukrainian government that a column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles crossed the border near Novoazovsk, headed toward Mariupol. The news was significant because this would be the opening of a new front –one much further south than where the current fighting took place.

Reuters reports that residents they’ve interviewed have confirmed that a column of perhaps around 7 vehicles, including tanks, crossed the border in this area. But Reuters also documented craters created by artillery rounds, rounds which are simply too far away from separatist territory to come from rebel artillery:

A Reuters reporter was able to observe the situation in the area where the column was seen, first at the start of August and then most recently on Sunday afternoon, a few hours before the first sightings of the column were reported.

Those observations, combined with interviews with rebel leaders, Ukrainian soldiers, and other research, indicated two things.

First, that until late on Sunday there were no rebel formations within about 30 km (20 miles) of the area where the armored column first appeared, and had not been for weeks beforehand.

And secondly, that before the armored column appeared, the area had come under artillery fire at times when the nearest rebel positions were beyond the range of most types of weapon that could have delivered the strike.

It was not possible to establish whether the people driving the column and firing the artillery were Russian soldiers or separatist rebels. But there were strong indications that whoever it was doing those things operated out of Russian territory – something very unlikely to have happened without Moscow’s consent.

According to the article, an analysis of the crater shows that the artillery appears to have been fired from the northeast — from Russia — matching what the Ukrainian government and other witnesses said.

One also has to keep in mind that the ten Russian paratroopers captured yesterday by Ukraine were captured some 60 kilometers north of this position, still far away from the separatist positions, which again serves as evidence that Russia is operating in this area of Ukraine. But as we see from the impact crater, it’s not just Russian armor and troops but also artillery positioned across the border that are working together to make these cross-border operations work.

In this case, however, Ukraine appears to have defeated the incursion. Does that mean that the next time there will simply be more tanks?

Russian Peacekeeping Forces Reportedly Ready For Both Humanitarian And Combat Missions
Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that, following analysis of the outcomes of exercises performed by members of 15th peacekeeping brigade and the 31st Air Assault Brigade (from the CSTO Rapid Reaction Force) in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, Russian peacekeeping forces are capable of being deployed in the near future to neighbouring states to perform not only humanitarian, but also combat missions.
To counter the threat of attacks by ‘militants’ and to enable the freeing of hostages, peacekeeping forces were transported over long distances by air and rail with their own weapons, allowing them to provide both humanitarian and combat support.
According to Major-General Aleksandr Vyaznikov of the CSTO Rapid Reaction Force, Russia now has more than 5,000 peacekeeping troops available, all contract soldiers.
Russia Will Take ‘Measures’ If Ukraine Enacts EU Association Agreement
The Russian state-operated propaganda/news network RT is sending an “urgent” message on Twitter:

Inside the article the language is somewhat softer:

In the opening statement, Russia’s president said that Moscow is interested in not only maintaining its cooperation with Ukraine, but even expanding it.

However, Putin expressed doubt that the two countries will be able to achieve this goal in case of Kiev’s association with the European Union gets enacted. Moscow will be forced to implement countermeasures if this happens, he added.

“We do not want to discriminate against anybody,” he said. “We are simply going to implement a standard trade regime regarding Ukraine – the same, which is used in relations between Russia and the EU.”

Outside the meeting, the Russian government is also making statements on the matter:

The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine will be discussed during the meeting between the Customs Union and Ukraine, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“[One] can’t ignore the catastrophic situation in eastern regions of Ukraine, especially in Donetsk and Lugansk [Regions],” he said, adding that the key issue on the agenda is “the relations between and countries of the Customs Union and Ukraine, including in the aftermath of the signing of the Kiev Association Agreement.”

Peskov also didn’t exclude the bilateral meeting between Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart.

“There are many issues for discussion [between Putin and Poroshenko],” he said, “They [issues] include Ukrainian domestic crisis and terrible humanitarian catastrophe in the country’s east, and the necessity of the ceasefire.”

Ukraine Doesn’t Believe Russian Troops Captured Across The Border Were ‘Lost’

As we’ve been reporting, 10 Russian paratroopers have been captured by Ukrainian forces, and Russia says that they simply got lost and it was an accident. But the area where they were captured was between 20 and 30 kilometers into Ukrainian territory (map), and Ukraine is not buying this excuse:

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) information and analytical center spokesman Andriy Lysenko said this at a briefing on Tuesday, a Ukrinform correspondent reported.

“If the elite troops of the Russian Armed Forces are not competent with topography and cannot find their way on the ground, then I have nothing to say about other troops and especially generals who send people to the east of Ukraine,” Lysenko said.

He said that the penetration of a military unit into Ukraine was not a mistake, but a special task, which was clearly being fulfilled.

“The Russian military leadership should think about what they are doing, because there is a lot of information that the families of Russian servicemen who are sent to Ukraine do not know where they are sent, or believe that they leave for exercises,” Lysenko said.

Reports Of Paratroopers’ Deaths Spread In Russia

TV Rain (Dozhd) has an interview with Lidiya Sviridova, the head of the Saratov branch of the Union of Soldiers’ Mothers, who alleges that paratroopers from the city are being sent off to die in Ukraine.

Lidiya Sviridova, the head of the Saratov branch of the Union of Soldiers’ Mothers, who held a press conference today with the mother of a paratrooper from Saratov, who has gone missing and been out of contact since going on exercises, has got in contact with us.

She said that there had been reports on social networks that a paratrooper had been killed, but that they had been unable to confirm these as, just a few days ago, an anonymous phone call was received which said that Ilya Maksimov was in fact alive and in captivity.

According to her report, paratroopers in the city are being compelled to sign contracts, after which they vanish.

Meanwhile Novaya Gazeta, another of Russia’s last remaining independent media, has published a story on the burials of paratroopers from the 76th Pskov Airborne Division (who were reported in Ukraine recently) as have and

On August 25, a day after Major-General Igor Konashenkov, an official in the Ministry of Defence’s press office, said that Ukrainian claims of the capture of an armoured vehicle belonging to the 76th Division was a falsification, correspondents from Novaya Gazeta and the excellent St. Petersburg-based Fontanka attended the funeral of paratroopers in the Pskov region and spoke to their relatives.

They are told that one of the dead soldiers had only been in Ukraine a week before being killed. They asked a Major attending the burial whether the young man had had a chance to survive:

“You want me to tell you the truth? They had no chance. With mortar fire on side, and on the other, Grads

The major shrugs when asked how many soldiers died there, adding “we’re burying more tomorrow.”

A relative of another soldier being buried said that they were told nothing of the cause of death, other than that they were killed while performing military duties near Lugansk. 

Another grave, that of a paratrooper who died on July 11 this year, lay next to the two being buried that day.

All translations by The Interpreter.

Putin Says Military Escalation Can’t Solve Crisis In Ukraine

In what almost seems like a punchline to a joke, after months of Russian military escalation Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that military escalation won’t end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Digging a little deeper, however, there is still a thinly-veiled threat in Putin’s words about defending Russia’s economic interests:

“We are convinced that today, (the Ukraine crisis) cannot be solved by further escalation of the military scenario, without taking into account vital interests of the south-eastern regions of the country and without a peaceful dialogue with its representatives,” Putin said.

Speaking at a high-level meeting in Minsk, which includes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Putin also said the Russian economy could suffer a loss of some 100 billion roubles (1.7 billion pounds) if European Union goods reach Russia via Ukraine, bypassing the tariffs Russia levies on EU goods.

“Russia cannot remain idle in such a case and we will simply be forced to take decisive measures to protect our market,” he said, adding that would include reversing trade preferences for imports from Ukraine.

US Ambassadors Slam Russian ‘Counteroffensive’

The US government and its ambassadors have been issuing warnings about Russian military incursions in eastern Ukraine. Washington Post reports:

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, said in a Twitter posting : “The new columns of Russian tanks and armor crossing into Ukraine indicates a Russian directed counter offensive may be underway.”

Separately, White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice tweeted  that “Russia’s military incursions into Ukraine” — which she said include artillery, air defense systems, dozens of tanks and military personnel — “represent significant escalation.”

Poroshenko And Putin Meet In Minsk

Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin are meeting in Minsk, Belarus today alongside the Belarusian president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Catherine Ashton.

Translation: What surprised Vladimir Putin so much at the meeting with Petro Poroshenko

Nataliya Vasilyeva, Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press, is tweeting from the meeting today:

Woman Accused Of Being Ukrainian Spy Tied To Pole And Humiliated In Donetsk

The New York Times reports on the public humiliation of a woman accused of being a government spy in separatist-held Donetsk.


A sign around the woman’s neck reads “She is killing our children. Agent of the punishers.”

An excerpt from the report:

A military unit of Russian nationals from the region of North Ossetia, in southern Russia, held the woman at a checkpoint in a roundabout in Donetsk known as “the Motel,” for a nearby hotel. The men, smiling and gesturing toward the woman, waved over cars for drivers to observe or take part.

“We should hang you on the square,” one woman in the crowd yelled, then walked up and spat in the face of the victim, then kicked her in a thigh, causing the woman accused of spying to stagger back.

The gunmen looked on. At times, the pro-Russian soldiers posed beside the crying woman to take selfies on their smartphones, or playfully twirl her hair with their fingers.

At one point, a fighter walked a few paces back, crouched in the street and aimed a Kalashnikov rifle at the woman in a mock execution. The woman shut her eyes. “Open your eyes, stand up straight!” another of the gunmen yelled.

A call placed by The New York Times to an aide for a senior separatist commander informing him of the abuse resulted in the rebel soldiers at the checkpoint briefly detaining the journalists. The aide, who uses only the nickname The Georgian, sent a car with gunmen to extricate the suspected spy and journalists from the Motel.

The two groups of gunmen agreed to release the journalists, but were not able to agree on handing over the woman. After the discussion, the captors drove her away to an unknown location.

The man known as The Georgian, who is a member of the Vostok Battalion, which consists of mostly local Ukrainians, said the Ossetian volunteers at the Motel checkpoint do not report to Ukrainian commanders, so nothing further could be done. He said he condemned the abuse.

Ukraine Claims Russian Helicopters Attacked Ukrainian Border Guards, Killing 4

Ukrainska Pravda reports that Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Defence and Security Council (SNBO) has told reporters at a briefing today that, for the first time in this conflict, Russian attack helicopters have fired on Ukrainian servicemen.

He said:

“For the first time in the conflict, two Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters have fired unguided rockets at Ukrainian border guards.”

According to the Lysenko, four Ukrainian border guards were killed in the attack and three wounded.

Russia Admits Troops Entered Ukraine… ‘By Accident’

Following Ukraine’s announcement that 10 Russian paratroopers had been captured near the village of Zerkalny, in the Donetsk region (map), Russia has been forced to admit that Russian servicemen were indeed present in Ukrainian territory.

However, the Russian Defence Ministry has claimed that these soldiers only crossed the border accidentally.

The Russian state-owned news agency ITAR-TASS reports:

Russian servicemen have accidentally crossed the Ukrainian border in a patrol area and have not offered resistance during detention, a Russian Defense Ministry source told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday in comments on the incident.

“The servicemen in question were indeed on patrol of a stretch of the Russian-Ukrainian border; they apparently crossed it accidentally in an undeveloped area containing no signs,” the official said, adding that “as far as we know, they did not offer resistance to the Ukrainian armed forces during detention.”

Russian Paratroopers Captured In Ukraine

UNIAN reports (translated by The Interpreter):

A combined operations group from the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the SBU have detained 10 soldiers from the 331st regiment of the Russian 98th Guards Airborne Division (military unit 71211) close to Zerkalny in the Amvrosievka district of the Donetsk region.

The Russian servicemen were detained with their personal documents and weapons. They testified that their battalion of paratroopers was sent by train to the Rostov region on August 23 this year, and that at around 3 am on August 24, the unit was put on alert and received orders to set out on a march in a column of several dozen BMDs.

Only the officers were informed that Russian hardware would make an incursion into Ukrainian territory.

SBU investigators have opened criminal proceedings on the grounds of illegal border crossings by armed citizens of the Russian state. 

The filmed interrogation of one of the officers from this group is transcribed and translated in the post below

This news comes less than a week after Ukrainian forces claimed to have captured a BMD-2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and personnel documents from the Russian 76th Airborne division near Lugansk, to the north-west. 

Transcript of Interrogation of Russian Paratrooper Captured in Ukraine

Here is a cross-post from our Russia This Week blog on the detention by Ukrainian forces of a group of Russian paratroopers:

Ukrainska Pravda and other Ukrainian media have reported that 10 Russian soldiers have been taken captive after their convoy invaded Ukrainian territory.

Pictures of the 10 soldiers have been published along with their names, and they look as if they may have been beaten in captivity, as their noses and faces are swollen and they have scratches and cuts on their faces.

The confessions of such soldiers in captivity cannot be taken as reliable and have been coerced.

The following is a transcript of one of the videos uploaded 25 August from the interrogation of a soldier captured near Zerkalny, Amvrosievka District in Donetsk Region by Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). It is described as the interrogation of captive Russian paratrooper guard Private 1st Class Ivan V. Milchakov, who was taken captive 25.08.2014.

The interrogator asks the soldier about his page in VKontakte, the popular Russian social media network.

The Interpreter has provided a translation.

Interrogator: So this is from your division?
Milchakov: Yes.
Interrogator: Introduce yourself, please.
Milchakov: I’m from the Russian Federation, my name is Ivan Vasilyevich Milchakov, born 7 June, 1995.
Interrogator: Where did you serve?
Milchakov: I don’t understand.
Interrogator: You’re serving, correct?
Milchakov: I serve in the city of Kostroma, Russian Federation, at army base 71211, 331th Parachute Paratroopers Regime, 98th Airborne Division
Interrogator: Title?
Milchakov: Title 2 [inaudible]
Interrogator: Do you know that you are now illegally on the territory of Ukraine?
Milchakov: I guessed. But I realized it when they already began to bomb us.
Interrogator: Ah-hah. How did you end up on Ukrainian territory?
Milchakov: We went in convoys. Not on the roads but through the fields. I didn’t even see where we crossed the border.
Interrogator: Understood. But did you know were going to Ukraine?
Milchakov: We knew.
Interrogator: And…your purpose?
Milchakov: They didn’t tell us anything. They just said we were going on a march for 70 kilometers, on a 3-day trip.
Interrogator. Ah-hah. Can you take that? It’s your dog-tag?
Milchakov: Yes, it’s my dog-tag.
Interrogator: Read it.
Milchakov: Armed Forces of Russia SU 108012
Interrogator: Can I have that? “VS [Armed Forces] of Russia. SU-108012”
Tell me…your personal opinion…Why did they send you here?
Milchakov: My personal opinion? My personal opinion, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t have stuck my nose in…I think Ukraine is also independent. If there are some kind of problems, then let them resolve them internally….themselves. But for outsiders shouldn’t stick their nose in.
Interrogator: On your page on VKontakte…There’s this phrase…”I’m being sent to Rostov once again. To the war. To wipe out Maidan. I’m leaving Monday.” So here it is. Is there such a phrase? Is that yours?
Milchakov: Yes, it’s mine.
Interrogator: Can you provide some commentary?
Milchakov: Provide commentary? At that moment, they didn’t tell us anything concrete. There were just rumors. But everyone understood…what would happen. We’re going to Rostov. Since there will be a training battalion.
Interrogator: So then what does “wiping out Maidan” have to do with that.
Milchakov: Well, sort of…it’s embarrassing even to say…I just wanted to show off in front of my friends, I guess. That’s why I wrote that.

At that moment, we didn’t know, we were told, on the television, there were rumors going around… in our country, in Russia, “Bandera,” it will do anything, but the militia, that’s good. But coming here, and winding up in captivity, it was explained to us, and they opened our eyes to the truth, what is really going on. We didn’t even know why we were going here.  We went here, and that’s it. We just lost our way. They shot us with mortar shells. Then from the Russian side, they shot with Grads as well.
Interrogator: Your own people?
Milchakov: [Nods head several times.]

They brainwash us Russians, I’ll tell you that. In fact, everything is different. Not the way they say on television. But we simple guys, they tell us what to do, we do it. We’re coming here like cannon fodder. We don’t know why, or for what reason. That’s it.
Interrogator: Thank you.
Milchakov: So I send love to everyone. To Mama, Papa, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa. My beloved Grandfather Oleg, it’s so hard for him now, and when he finds out, it will be even harder for him.

To the commanders, I would call on you not to hide from soldiers, what’s going on and where we’re going…and they said…we’re like blind cats, going along.