Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed the identity of two fighters captured in Ukraine as former members of the Russian military. The admission is further proof that Russian, not rebel, troops are fighting in the Donbass area of Ukraine.
The Russian soldiers, Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, whom were captured in the rebel-controlled Luhansk area, "were not active servicemen in the Russian armed forces at the moment of their capture on May 17," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Monday.
"We have checked up on the information of the Ukrainian side — these boys previously have in fact served in one of the Russian military units and have military training," Konashenkov said.
The Russian army is going to some trouble to obscure its leading the annexation of Crimea, with separatists in Luhansk releasing photos of their rebel-issued military IDs, both dated this year, to 'prove' they are not Russian military.
However Ukraine identified the fighters as officers of the GRU, the foreign military intelligence arm of Russia's army, and released video showing the men confessing they had been part of a special forces spying mission.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Both we and the Defense Ministry have said multiple times that there are no Russian servicemen in the Donbass."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also repeatedly denied that Russian troops invaded Ukraine, saying "I am telling you openly and unambiguously: There are no Russian troops in Ukraine."
All this despite sophisticated Russia missile systems, tanks, small arms and military servicemen clearly observable invading Ukraine.