Soldiers of the Ukrainian army captured by Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) forces claimed on Wednesday that Kiev might launch an offensive in Donbas during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia.
The operational command of the DNR organized a briefing in Donetsk with captured Ukrainian soldiers Vasily Zhimilinsky and Vitaly Chmil. They spoke about the circumstances under which they were captured and answered reporters’ questions. Both soldiers confirmed that they had not been influenced by the Donetsk side.
“We were told that an offensive would begin either on the eve of the presidential election in Russia, as the snow melted and the land dried up, or during the World Cup. All this was discussed, they even said that there was an order and it was all a matter of time. We were given more ammunition and fuel… the commander also told us that before the offensive, Javelin anti-tank missile systems would be delivered to each unit of the front line,” Zhimilinsky said.
Chmil confirmed the facts of the preparation of Kiev’s forces for an offensive. Both captured soldiers confirmed the presence of artillery systems at the positions of the Ukrainian army’s frontline.
Representatives of the DPR operational command explained that one of those captured was declared to have deserted by the command of the Ukrainian armed forces, although both soldiers were captured on the battlefield, but on different occasions and in different sectors of the contact line.
The conflict in Donbas started in 2014, when Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics that refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which came to power after what they considered to be a coup. In February 2015, the warring parties signed the Minsk peace accords to end the fighting in the region, but the situation has remained tense, with both parties accusing each other of ceasefire violations.