Ukraine said its forces had captured a group of Russian
paratroopers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory on a
"special mission" - but Moscow said they had ended up there
The Ukrainian military meanwhile reported pro-Russian
separatist forces were shelling the town of Novoazovsk and
buildings there, including a hospital, were ablaze.
Twelve Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 19 wounded in
the past 24 hours, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.
Earlier, the security services released video footage
purporting to show testimonies from Russian paratroopers who
were detained by Ukrainian government forces while fighting
alongside pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine.
The videos, the strongest evidence yet to back up Kiev's
claims of Russian involvement in the conflict, and the
intensified fighting in the east overshadowed a meeting
between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's
Vladimir Putin in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
Russia denies giving military help to the separatist
rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
A Russian defence ministry source, quoted by RIA Novosti,
said the servicemen had strayed into Ukrainian territory by
mistake during border patrol.
Ukraine rejected this.
"It wasn't a mistake, but a special mission they were
carrying out," Lysenko said in a briefing.
In footage posted on Kiev's Anti-Terrorist Operation Facebook
page, one of the detained soldiers, who identified himself as
Ivan Milchakov, listed his personal details, including the
name of the paratroop regiment he said is based in the
Russian town of Kostroma.
"I did not see where we crossed the border. They just told us
we were going on a 70-kilometre march over three days," he
"Everything is different here, not like they show it on
television. We've come as cannon fodder," he said in the
Another man in the footage, who gave his name as Sergeant
Aleksei Generalov, said: "Stop sending in our boys. Why? This
is not our war. And if we weren't here, none of this would
have happened. They would have sorted things out with the
Social networking pages appear to corroborate the men's
assertions they are actively serving in the Russian military.
Photographs posted by an Ivan Melchakov of himself on Russia
social media site Vkontakte are recognisable as the same
person who appears in the video released by Ukraine's SBU
under the name Milchakov. His page is filled with pictures of
soldiers in camouflage.
Aleksei Generalov's profile photo on the site Odnoklassniki
shows him smiling into the camera in military fatigues, while
the Vkontakte page of another detained soldier, named as Egor
Pochtoev, shows him in paratrooper uniform and a post that he
is "on assignment."
The Russian soldiers were detained with their personal
documents and weapons, near the small town of Amvrosiyivka in
Donetsk region, the Ukrainian state security service said.
Lysenko also said Russian Mi-24 helicopters had fired on a
border post on Monday, killing four border guards, while
rebel attacks on Novoazovsk were happening "at this very
Rebel forces, backed by an armoured column which the
Ukrainian military said moved across the border from Russia,
began attacking Novoazovsk on Monday aiming to open up a new
front in the south.
Government forces in the five-month conflict have largely
hemmed in separatist forces into the two main regional towns
of Donetsk and Luhansk - a situation the separatist are
trying to break out of.
Local resident Oleksiy said by phone on Sunday morning he saw
a convoy of 18 armoured vehicles without insignia on
Ukrainian territory 15 km from the Russian border to the
south of the village of Koloski, which is not far from where
the paratroopers were detained.
This corresponds with the alleged route of the paratroopers
captured in Ukraine. The soldiers departed from Russia's
Rostov region on Sunday at 3 a.m., the Ukrainian security
"Officially they are on military exercises in various corners
of Russia. In reality they are involved in military
aggression against Ukraine," Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey
said in a Facebook post.