MELITOPOL, January 20. /TASS/. At least several dozens of servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces have come over to the Russian side in Zaporozhye since mid-December, Chairman of the We Stand With Russia movement Vladimir Rogov told TASS on Friday.
"The number of [servicemen] changing sides increased rapidly in mid-December. I mean at least a few dozen of servicemen switching to the Russian side in the Zaporozhye Region," he said, adding that the majority of those people were members of local territorial defense squads, who were "forced to participate in hostilities."
In his words, this has become "a regular occurrence in Zaporozhye."
Rogov explained that those servicemen have to undergo checks for their previous involvement in war crimes.
"If their involvement is not confirmed, they may return to normal life a while later. In fact, there have been quite a few such people. There are even those who are already fighting on our side," he added.
Rogov said on Tuesday more and more Ukrainian soldiers in the Zaporozhye direction were opting to come over to the Russian side. In his words, those people "don’t want to fight, kill, and ultimately, die for the [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky regime." "Our soldiers at defense posts are also perplexed to see so many people who say they want to surrender," he added.
According to Rogov, anti-retreat units have been formed in the Ukrainian army, mostly from militants of nationalist battalions and special forces. He told TASS earlier that militants from the Kraken and Azov nationalist battalions (outlawed in Russia) deployed to the contact line in the Zaporozhye region as anti-retreat units have killed seven and wounded 18 soldiers of Ukrainian territorial defense units since mid-December. The Ukrainian side says, however, that these soldiers had been killed in combat operations, he added.