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More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers have abandoned their military posts and crossed into Russian territory, stating that they refuse to fight against their own people, a Russian Federal Security Service spokesperson said.

Follow RT’s live updates on Kiev’s bloody eastern Ukraine campaign

At least 41 Ukrainian soldiers have made it to Russian territory after asking self-defense forces for help, the spokesperson from the Federal Security Service’s Rostov region border patrol unit, Vasily Malaev, told Itar-Tass.

“At around 20:30 Moscow time, 41 Ukrainian soldiers left their military bases and arrived at the Ukrainian border crossing checkpoint Izvarino. They appealed to the militia there for help to with cross into the Russian territory, in connection with the fact that they do not want to fight against their own people,” Malaev said.


All of the soldiers were able to cross into Russia at the Donetsk checkpoint, the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, a Russian hospital near the Ukrainian border has been treating wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Some of them have expressed their unwillingness to fight for the Ukrainian army, blaming mobilization laws for forcing them to do so.

“I wouldn’t want to. We don’t know who we are fighting. I have no animosity towards Russians. I am not a nationalist, I am not Right Sector,” Ivan, a Ukrainian soldier, told RT.

What right do they have to make us fight? I was mobilized, I received wounds to my hands and now I have to go and fight again with cardboard equipment. They reuse old ammunition and make money off us. The country is falling apart, but for them everything is fine,” he added.

Another soldier questioned the purpose of the military offensive, adding that it is not even clear who the enemy is.

It is all so confusing, who is fighting who and how and what for isn’t clear. Who are these separatists? What do they look like? We don’t know,” Ukrainian soldier Sergey said.

Two other Ukrainian soldiers – major and senior warrant officers – were also among those who fled to Russia and said they intend to apply for Russian citizenship, according to Malaev.

Ukrainian soldiers claim that high-ranking officers rarely come to the frontline, and when they do they try to leave as soon as possible – preferably before dark – RT’s Roman Kosarev reported from Donetsk.

“Millions of dollars have already been spent by Kiev on its punitive action against those they call terrorists. While the country’s leadership ordered yet another mobilization round of its citizens into active armed forces…morale of the soldiers on the ground and the collapsing parliament could become a barrier for their operation target,” Kosarev added.

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovnaya Rada, approved this week a presidential decree authorizing the limited mobilization of army reserves and material, which will be used to reinforce units fighting in the east of the country. This was part of the Ukrainian president’s peace plan, which involves a unilateral ceasefire by government forces in eastern Ukraine.

On Friday, mothers and wives of Ukrainian soldiers sent to fight in eastern Ukraine kneeled during a demonstration, asking President Petro Poroshenko to end the military offensive.


Over 20 killed, 80 injured in ‘worst’ shelling of Lugansk by Ukrainian forces

At least 24 civilians were killed and another 85 injured as the city of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine was heavily shelled by Kiev forces on Friday and Saturday, media reported.

The bombardment of the city, home to over 400,000 people, began at around 06:00 PM local time on Friday and went on during the night and through Saturday morning.

Kiev forces hit 22 buildings, including a school and a kindergarten. Self-defense forces told the LifeNews Channel that 24 have died, adding that the death toll may rise as shelling of the city continues.

An eyewitness told RT that around 10 people were killed at a bus stop in the Yubileynoe village, which is also a part of Lugansk.

“Peaceful civilians were torn into pieces at the bus stop,” Viktor said, adding that the attack by Kiev forces was “aimed exclusively at the civilian population.”

“They’re targeting private houses… There are no checkpoints, no troops, no self-defense forces there,” he said.

An image grab taken from RUPTLY video

An image grab taken from RUPTLY video

The press service of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic claimed that government forces used mortars and heavy artillery in their assault. Five people died on Friday and 15 more on Saturday.

“It was the worst shelling of Lugansk that I’ve ever seen,”
said Aleksey Toporov from the Lugansk People’s Republic, as cited by the Russkaya Vesna website.

Shelling over night has damaged several power lines, said Manolisa Pilavova, first deputy mayor of Lugansk.

“At the moment, about 60 percent of people are without electricity,” Pilavova told Interfax-Ukraine.

The intensity of Ukrainian fire decreased midday on Saturday, after self-defense forces counter-attacked Ukrainian military positions in the Lugansk airport, the press service of the Lugansk People’s Republic said. Airborn units, who were stationed there, suffered “serious damage.”

Kiev’s military crackdown on the southeast of Ukraine started in mid-April, after residents in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to recognize the coup-imposed authorities in Kiev and demanded federalization.

The Ukrainian military and National Guard resorted to airstrikes and shelling in their struggle against self-defense forces in Donetsk and Lugansk.

On July 10, Ukraine’s deputy health minister said 478 civilians have been killed in the conflict, with nearly 1,400 people receiving injuries, but the death toll has surely increased drastically since then.



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