Pro-Ukraine group of Russian partisans plans to give prisoners to Kyiv

  • World
  • Monday, 05 Jun 2023

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Russian Volunteer Corps are seen, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the Russian border, in Ukraine May 24, 2023. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

KYIV (Reuters) - A pro-Ukraine group of Russian partisans on Sunday said it had captured several soldiers during a cross-border raid into southern Russia and would hand them over to Ukrainian authorities.

The Russian Volunteer Corps made the claim in a video statement released on Telegram in the wake of a raid into the Russian region of Belgorod. The Corps, along with fighters from the Freedom of Russia Legion, has claimed responsibility for a spate of attacks inside Russian territory, including last week when Moscow said two civilians were killed during fighting.

The one minute and 26 second video clip showed what appeared to be around a dozen Russian soldiers being held captive, with two lying on hospital beds. The Freedom of Russia Legion released the same video on its Telegram channel.

The Corps said earlier it had taken two soldiers prisoner. A man from the group, who did not give his name, said more Russians were captured during the course of the day.

The governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, earlier agreed to meet the group if the soldiers were still alive. The Corps member in the video said Gladkov had not turned up at the designated meeting place.

"We have already decided the fate of these guys. They will be transferred to the Ukrainian side for the exchange procedure," said the man.

Ukraine and Russia have carried out regular prisoner swaps.

The man said he had just returned from the Russian town of Novaya Tavolzhanka, where Gladkov had earlier reported fighting with that he called a group of "Ukrainian saboteurs".

Russia's defence ministry later said its forces had broken up the group, driving its fighters back into Ukraine.

Gladkov later posted a short statement saying he had held talks with local authorities. He made no mention of the proposed meeting with members of the groups.

Ukraine denies direct involvement in the cross-border attacks but has cast them as a consequence of Russia's invasion, predicting the rise of what it calls forces opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"These Russian men took up arms against their will. Soon they will understand the whole vileness and injustice of the war unleashed by Putin," another Corps member who did not identify himself said in the video.

Gladkov said earlier on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had continued to shell his region overnight after two people were killed the previous evening and hundreds of children were evacuated away from the border.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk, Caleb Davis and David Ljunggren; Editing by Gareth Jones and Will Dunham)

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