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Twelve Ukrainian servicemen lay down arms, cross into Russia

August 03, 2014, 15:42 UTC+3 ROSTOV-ON-DON
They served in Ukraine’s 72nd mechanized brigade
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©  ITAR-TASS/ Alexander Rumin

ROSTOV-ON-DON, August 03, 14:29 /ITAR-TASS/. Twelve Ukrainian army servicemen have laid down their arms and crossed into Russia’s southern Rostov region, a spokesman for the regional border department said on Sunday.

“The servicemen laid down their arms and crossed into Russia through the Gukovo border checkpoint. The motives for this act are currently being established,” the spokesman said.

The Ukrainian servicemen crossed into Russia on Saturday, the spokesman said, adding that they had served in Ukraine’s 72nd mechanized brigade.

The instances when Ukrainian troops crossed into Russia were also registered before.

In late July, more than 40 Ukrainian servicemen left their military units and asked the militias in east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions to help them cross into Russia because they did not want to fight against their own people. All the Ukrainian servicemen passed through Russia’s Donetsk border post. They thanked the militias who had helped them.

The troopers were given meals and an opportunity to rest. Most servicemen who had been mobilized in Ukraine asked for permission to go back home via the territory of Russia despite the responsibility they were going to face in Ukraine, law enforcers told Itar-Tass.

Two of the Ukrainian servicemen announced their intention to apply for Russian citizenship, spokesman for the Rostov Region border department Vasily Malayev said at the time.

Pro-Kiev troops and local militias in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.

During the military operation, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.

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