02 Feb 18 Ukraine Lists Serbs Fighting for Russian Unit

02 Feb 18

Ukraine Lists Serbs Fighting for Russian Unit

The official from the Ukraine’s Security Service, SBU, Igor Guskov, said at least seven Serbian citizens are members of a Russian-led unit fighting in Ukraine, one of whom has been killed.

BIRN

Belgrade

One of Serbian fighters, Dejan Beric, with the passport of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Photo: Facebook/Dejan Beric

Ukraine security service official Igor Guskov told Ukrainian television on Friday that at least seven Serbian mercenaries were fighting in eastern Ukraine as part of a private Russian military unit, called Wagner, one of whom was now dead.

“We are well aware of eight Wagner mercenaries. One of them was killed,” Guskov told journalists without specifying the name of the killed Serb or the date of his death.

According to him, the dead Serb was buried in Moscow and had also participated earlier in the war in Syria, in which Russia has intervened heavily on the side of the Syrian government.

“Anther seven people [from Serbia] are also known to the Security Service of Ukraine,” Guskov added.

Ukraine has expressed irritation before over what it sees as Serbia’s failure to stop its nationals from fighting on the side of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in November called on Serbia to respect his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by taking action to stop this phenomenon.

In an interview with BIRN on November 1, 2017, Ukraine’s ambassador to Serbia, Oleksandr Aleksandrovych, said Serbia was not doing nearly enough to stop Serbs from travelling to Ukraine and fighting on the pro-Russian side in the east.

The interview heightened tensions between Kiev and Belgrade, which has taken a neutral stance over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and generally prioritises historic ties to Moscow.

Far from apologising to Kiev, Serbia’s Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine’s ambassador of seeking to wreck its warm relations with Moscow.

As BIRN has reported, social media posts from the Ukrainian battlefields have enabled prosecutors in Serbia and Montenegro to prove the illegal military action of their nationals in Ukraine.

Among the Serbian citizens allegedly fighting in the Donbas region is Dejan Beric, who recently confirmed to BIRN that he is indeed fighting on the pro-Russian side in Ukraine.

The Ukraine security service on Friday said that the SBU, apart from the fighters in the Wagner group, had informed Serbia about several hundred other Serbs who it says are also present in eastern Ukraine but not registered as participants of this particular group.

He said he had still not received any answers about this from Belgrade.

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