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OSCE: Ukrainian soldiers did not ask for asylum in Russia

OSCE: Ukrainian soldiers did not ask for asylum in Russia

None of the 437 Ukrainian troops, which were forced to temporarily cross into Russian territory, asked for asylum in Russia. The OSCE stated this in its observer mission report published on its official website.

“The Observer Mission also enquired about any asylum requests and none was found,” the report states.

The OSCE reported that Ukrainian army officers made contact with the OSCE Observer Mission to request OSCE assistance to open a passageway to the Gukovo border crossing point (BCP) of Russia for several hundred Ukrainian servicemen. The report states the chronology of the resonating events.

On 1-2 August the OSCE Observer Mission received calls from officers of the 72nd mechanized infantry brigade who claimed that around 600 Ukrainian servicemen were surrounded by separatists and left without ammunition, fuel, and food. According to them, negotiations with the separatists to open a passageway had failed.

The officers asked for the Observer Mission’s assistance in facilitating the transfer at the BCP and reached out to their leadership in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense to accept this option. The Observer Mission relayed the information to the Russian authorities to permit the safe transfer and received agreement.

On 2 August, 12 servicemen of the 72nd brigade crossed the border through the Gukovo BCP at 22:00. They were subsequently brought to a transit facility.

On 3 August late in the evening, a commanding officer of the 72nd brigade returned to meet the Observer Mission again at the Gukovo BCP. The meeting took place in the presence of the Gukovo BCP commander. The Observer Mission discussed modalities of the transfer of a larger group of servicemen into Russia from Ukraine and confirmed them with the BCP commander.

On 4 August from 00:45 to 10:20 on, a total of 437 servicemen (including 147 border guards) crossed into the Russia in well-organized waves of 100 and were transferred to the transit facility. The wounded servicemen were given first aid and were sent by ambulance to hospital.

At 06:00 on 4 August, while Ukrainian servicemen were still crossing the border into Russia, the Observer Mission heard explosions and gunfire of various calibers and witnessed considerable black fumes coming from the position previously held by the 72nd brigade on the territory of Ukraine.

From 06:00 and throughout the day of 4 August (up to 15:00 when the Observer Mission team left the BCP after staying non-stop for 35 hours onsite) sporadic but heavy gunfire and shells were heard and seen, including shells falling into Russia.

At 15:00 on 4 August, the Observer Mission met with the Gukovo BCP commander and the regional border commander. The Observer Mission enquired about the transfer of the servicemen back to Ukraine and learned that 192 were already on their way by bus to Ukraine and that the others would follow in the next bus. The Observer Mission also enquired about any asylum request and none was reported. The cell phones of the 72nd brigade commander and border guard commander were not reachable to confirm this information. The OSCE Observer Mission will continue their engagement and report about further developments in line with their mandate.


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