Ukraine says 2 Russian officers captured near rebel area

May 17, 2015, 1:24 PM

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian government on Sunday claimed to have captured two Russian officers who were operating in the rebel-controlled area.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Sunday the two Russian officers have been taken prisoner by the volunteer Aidar battalion in the town of Shchastia, not far from the front line. He would not provide further details and said investigators were questioning the men.

Aidar said on its Facebook page that the two officers were wounded and taken captive in a skirmish in the area early on Sunday.

A year-long conflict between Russia-backed separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 6,100 people. Russia has repeatedly denied that it was supplying the separatists with rebels or recruits despite the mounting evidence testifying to the contrary.

Shchastia, a town less than 20 kilometers north of the rebel-controlled regional capital Luhansk and home to a strategic power station, has repeatedly changed hands throughout the conflict.

Anton Herashchenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament, on Sunday posted a video on Facebook purportingd to show the questioning of one of the two officers.

The young man who was shown lying in a hospital bed introduced himself as Sgt. Alexander Alexandrov of the Russian Special Forces from the Volga River city of Togliatti and said he was operating in the area in a group consisting of 14 men. He said he had been based in the rebel stronghold Luhansk since March 6 and that he and his comrades had been rotating in and out of the area around Shchastia every 4-5 days.

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Ukraine says 2 Russian officers captured near rebel area