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Source: nearly 200 Balkan mercenaries fighting on Kiev’s side in Ukraine

February 06, 2015, 11:41 UTC+3

US private security firm Academi plays the key role in hiring the mercenaries

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MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. Some 200 mercenaries from Balkan countries are fighting alongside Kiev troops in eastern Ukraine, a military expert familiar with the situation told TASS on Friday.

"Citizens from certain countries of the Balkan region are participating in an armed conflict in Ukraine," the expert said. US private security firm Academi plays the key role in hiring the mercenaries, he said.

Most mercenaries come from Croatia, and also Kosovo, including the former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who have an experience in armed actions.

"These mercenaries are mainly acting as part of the so-called volunteer battalions," he said.

"According to some estimates, the overall number of the representatives of the countries of the former Yugoslavia who are fighting on the side of Kiev is around 200," he said.

In September, Amnesty International accused battalion fighters in eastern Ukraine of war crimes, which it said are the result of a failure by the Kiev authorities to bring Aidar and other volunteer battalions under control.

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