MOSCOW, March 13. /TASS/. Russia’s armed forces released about 300 citizens and monks who were held hostage by militants of the national battalion Aidar in the Orthodox Holy Dormition Nikolo-Vasilyevsky monastery in the village of Nikolskoye, Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Sunday.
"In the village of Nikolskoye, the militants of the Aidar national battalion equipped firing positions right on the territory of the Orthodox Holy Assumption Nikolo-Vasilyevsky monastery and held hostage about 300 civilians and monks. When this village was liberated by Russian units, some of the nationalists were killed, the rest were scattered. The hostages and buildings of the monastery were not damaged," Konashenkov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on 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 of the Donbass republics. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.
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.