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Russia points to Ukrainian diplomats’ involvement in recruitment of mercenaries

Mercenaries have been taking part in the armed conflict in Donbass since 2014

MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. Russian investigators have found out that Ukrainian embassy workers overseas are involved in the recruitment of mercenaries to fight alongside Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Russian Investigative Committee said on Thursday.

"It has been established that Ukrainian embassy workers overseas are involved in the selection of mercenaries, along with various foreign government agencies and public organizations," the committee noted in a statement following an operational meeting of the committee to investigate Ukrainian forces’ crimes against civilians and Russian troops, which took place in the city of Genichensk, in the Kherson Region, and was chaired by the Investigative Committee’s chief Alexander Bastrykin.

Mercenaries have been taking part in the armed conflict in Donbass since 2014. Some of them have combat experience from conflicts in Middle Eastern countries.

"As a result of the work carried out, the participation of about 1,000 mercenaries from 54 countries was documented. The most active countries in terms of manpower to Ukraine include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Israel, France, Sweden, Georgia, Finland, Poland and Lithuania," the Russian Investigative Committee specified.

The committee noted that in 2016, then-Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko had issued a decree providing legal grounds for the recruitment of foreign nationals and stateless persons to serve in the Ukrainian army. "Such measures may indicate that Ukraine’s political and military leadership planned to attack the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in advance," the Investigative Committee stressed. In addition, the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine was formed in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, where mercenaries from various countries serve.

Russian investigators also have evidence of the collective West’s military assistance to Ukraine through training Ukrainian service members and bringing them to NATO standards. According to the Russian Investigative Committee, there are US, British, Canadian, Georgian, Romanian, Polish, Lithuanian citizens and other foreign nationals among the military instructors training Ukrainian troops to use foreign-made weapons, ensure combat coordination and fight in various conditions.