More than 400 Ukrainian troops cross into Russia to find sanctuary

More than 400 Ukrainian troops cross into Russia to find sanctuary
Mon Aug 4, 2014 22:23:09

More than 400 Ukrainian troops have been allowed to cross into Russian territory after seeking sanctuary as Kiev’s military crackdown continues in the east of the country.

According to the Rostov Region’s border guard spokesman Vasily Malaev, a total of 438 soldiers, including 164 Ukrainian border guards, have been allowed into Russia on Sunday night.

One of the Ukrainians was seriously injured on his arrival in Russia. He was taken to the hospital for surgery, the officials added.

The other Ukrainian soldiers have been housed in a tent camp deployed near the checkpoint via which they entered Russian territory. The Russian border guards are providing them with food and bedding.

Footage taken by the Russian media at the scene showed the Ukrainian soldiers being handed ration packs and resting in their temporary shelter. Those who agreed to speak on camera said they were relieved to be in safety for the first time in weeks.

"They were tired of the war and wanted no further part in it," Vasily Malayev, spokesman for the border guards in the Rostov region said. However, he added that 180 would be returned to Ukraine later on Monday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking to Itar-Tass and Rossiya24 TV, said Russia would facilitate the return of the Ukrainian soldiers but suggested they would be vulnerable to prosecution for desertion once they returned home.

"I expect Ukrainian authorities to understand that it is absolutely unacceptable, when Ukrainians ... are forced to fight with their own people, to treat those who refuse to do so as traitors to the motherland," Lavrov said.


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