Mercenaries Arrive in Ukraine Disguised as Foreign Military Instructors, LPR Head Says
04:47 GMT 31.01.2022 (Updated: 20:59 GMT 19.10.2022)
© Sputnik / Stringer / / Go to the mediabankUkraine's National Guard soldiers undergo NATO combat training
© Sputnik / Stringer //
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - There are increasing numbers of mercenaries in southeastern Ukraine (Donbass), who arrive there under the guise of military instructors, the leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), Leonid Pasechnik, told Sputnik.
"This is not a secret at all, it is official data that hundreds of foreign instructors from NATO countries are on a rotational basis on the territory of Ukraine... In addition, outright mercenaries also arrive in Ukraine under the guise of instructors", Pasechnik said.
He pointed out that when Western countries say that they are sending 200 instructors to Kiev along with weaponry, to help train Ukrainian servicemen, it is likely that these trainers are narrow specialists from military companies who, in the event of a conflict escalation, may use the supplied weapons on the line of contact in Donbass.
"And I can tell you that it is not at all guaranteed that these mercenary instructors will pay at least some attention to the orders of Ukrainian commanders. They have their own employers and their own tasks", Pasechnik told Sputnik.
The Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for New Challenges and Threats has expressed concerns over reports of persistent activity by US private military companies (PMCs) in southeastern Ukraine.
© REUTERS / Konstantin ChernichkinActivists warm themselves by a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in the Donetsk Region, 14 February 2017.
Activists warm themselves by a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in the Donetsk Region, 14 February 2017.
© REUTERS / Konstantin Chernichkin
According to LPR, there are mercenaries from the Academi (Blackwater) PMC in Donbass.
Tensions in the region have been escalating over the past few weeks, as the US and Britain claimed Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine. Moscow denied the allegations, calling them fake news and accusing the West of planning a provocation in Donbass. President Vladimir Putin even noted that NATO countries are "pumping" Ukraine with new weapons, which creates security threats for Russia.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in the spring of 2014 after Donetsk and Lugansk proclaimed their independence. Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation to try to crush the independence-seeking forces in the country's east after the February 2014 Western-backed coup in Kiev. The war led to the deaths of up to 31,000 people, with tens of thousands more injured, and more than 2.5 million residents being externally or internally displaced.