Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ukraine Posts Video Of Captured Russian Rebel; He Asks Putin For Help

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s state security agency has released a video to show a captured Russian army officer appealing to President Vladimir Putin for help securing his release.

In this Sunday, July 29, 2015, file photo, pro-Russian rebels ride on a tank flying Russia’s flag on a road east of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

The soldier in the video was identified by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) as Maj. Vladimir Starkov who was captured last month in eastern Ukraine.

Maj. Starkov has admitted that he was serving in Russia’s armed forces at the time of his capture, Business Insider reported.

The video fuels Ukraine’s suspicion that Russia is backing separatists in the eastern part of the country, an accusation Moscow has vehemently denied.

The Kremlin has conceded, amid mounting evidence of Russian influence in Ukraine, that Russian citizens, including servicemen, have fought alongside the rebels but says they are volunteers operating outside official control.

Moscow has also denied providing heavy weaponry that has been repeatedly spotted in the region to separatist forces.

In the video published Aug. 13, the man, who does not identify himself, appeals directly to Putin, asking him to help set him free.

“I’m not a combat officer. I am only a ‘paper,’ a clerical officer,” he says, Business Insider reported.

“I served 19 years in the Russian army. And now they don’t acknowledge me. They’re saying there’s no one by that name. He didn’t serve. How could they do such a thing?” the man asks, speaking in Russian.

Ukrainian state security chief Vasyl Hyrtsak on July 29 said Maj. Starkov has been charged with terrorism, but the man in the video denied that charge.

“I’m not a terrorist. I didn’t come here to kill anyone. Before my detention, I didn’t put up any resistance because I knew that officially, we weren’t enemies,” he says in the video, Business Insider reported.

“I request that someone acknowledges that I’m a [Russian] soldier and helps me somehow transfer out of here,” he adds.

Following Ukraine’s announcement of Maj. Starkov’s detention, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated denials of Russian involvement in the conflict.

More than 6,800 people have been killed in the conflict since fighting erupted in April 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory, the United Nations has said.

Source: Washington Times

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