MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. About 200 mercenaries from Croatia joined a battalion of nationalists in Ukraine, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"The past week alone, about 200 mercenaries from Croatia arrived through Poland and joined one of the battalions of nationalists in southeastern Ukraine," Konashenkov said.
The military attache of the Croatian embassy in Moscow was summoned to Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday and told, in particular, that the Russian side was aware of the mercenaries’ arrival, he said.
"The military attache was told about the illegal activity of Croatian citizen Denis Seler who had participated in combat operations in southeastern Ukraine in 2015 and was now setting up groups of Croatian mercenaries for sending them to Ukraine," the spokesman added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on the morning of February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories and the operation was aimed at demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine.
When clarifying the developments unfolding, the Russian Defense Ministry reassured that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, but are limited to surgically striking and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure. There are no threats whatsoever to the civilian population.