Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Thursday two individuals captured by Ukrainian army last week admitted to be Russian soldiers.
OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission met with two men in a hospital in Kiev where they receive treatment and spoke with them about their background and purpose for being in eastern Ukraine.
One of the soldiers said he had received military training in the Russian Federation. Both individuals claimed that they were members of a unit of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, OSCE report said.
Russian Defence Ministry said on Monday that the two detainees were former Russian soldiers, and claimed their testimonies were taken by Ukrainian soldiers under torture.
OSCE said their monitors spoke to captured men “without the presence of Ukrainian authorities.”
The two wounded soldiers, identified as Captain Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Sergeant Aleksander Aleksandrov by Ukrainian officials were captured during a battle with pro-Russian separatist rebels in the country’s east on Saturday.
The report said both men have been in Ukraine for previous missions and one of them said he had received orders from his military unit to go to Ukraine.
“They claimed that they were on a reconnaissance mission. They were armed but had no orders to attack. Both of them said that they came under fire, got injured and were captured on May 16, 2015 at the contact line near Shchastya,” OSCE said citing the two men.
The report stated one of the men “stressed repeatedly that there were no Russian troops involved in fighting in Ukraine.”
The individuals were captured just days after the release of a report published by the Russian opposition claiming at least 220 Russian soldiers were killed in the war in eastern Ukraine in the past year.
European Union, the United States and Ukraine also accuse Russia of deploying soldiers and helping the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east of the country.
Over 6,200 people have been killed in the fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists, which started in April 2014 after the separatists gained control of Donetsk and Luhansk.