All Russian paratroopers who were detained earlier in the week in eastern Ukraine have been handed over to the Russian side, deputy commander of the Airborne Forces, Major-General Aleksey Ragozin has confirmed.
“The negotiations were very difficult. However, common sense prevailed, and all ended well,” Ragozin said on Saturday night, cited by RIA.
“The most important thing - all the guys are now back with us, in Russia. I want to emphasize that we never abandon our own," he added.
From the very first minute the patrol was caught after accidentally crossing the border the Russian side was doing everything possible to secure their release, Ragozin said.
“Our guys feel sorry that this happened,” he said, adding that they will be provided with all necessary “psychological and other assistance.”
"I consider it unacceptable that for so many days our soldiers were held by the Ukrainian side and, moreover, were transferred to Kiev,” he stated. “At the same time, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who found themselves on the territory of Russia, after the provision of comprehensive care by the relevant authorities were immediately transferred back to Ukraine."
In the meantime, Ragozin announced, 63 Kiev’s troops who crossed into Russia this week have been transported to the Nekhoteevka border checkpoint and transferred to the Ukrainian side. The soldiers sought refuge in Russia on Wednesday and were accommodated in a temporary camp in Rostov Region, he said, and provided with all necessary help.
Kiev’s army announced August 26 that it had captured the Russian paratroopers after their incursion into Ukraine. The military officials claimed the 10 detained servicemen had crossed the border to fight alongside anti-government forces.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the soldiers had been on a routine patrol, which accidentally strayed into foreign territory without any hostile intent.
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President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Friday. “In fact, this is the case, I’m talking seriously. I believe that they had just gotten lost because there are no boundary markers there,” the president said.
Putin also said that he had negotiated the release of the paratroopers with his Ukrainian counterpart during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, earlier this week.
“I believe this is just a technical issue. Petro Poroshenko and I talked about this [in Minsk] and he affirmed that the Russian military servicemen would be handed back over to Russia, just as we continue to return soldiers [to Ukraine] from the Ukrainian Army,” Putin said.
Moscow has reiterated there have been numerous cases of incursions into Russian territory by Ukrainian soldiers. At least one incident involved an armored personnel carrier, and the soldiers were armed.
At the beginning of August, over 400 Ukrainian troops were allowed to cross into Russia after requesting sanctuary.
Russia has always been quick in handing back Ukrainian soldiers who’ve crossed into its territory, while giving sanctuary to those servicemen who wanted to stay.