Ukrainian military is using barrier troops, a discipline-keeping unit comprising hardcore nationalists, to prevent other units from retreating, Russian military claims.
On Monday, Ukrainian barrier troops blew up a road bridge in the town of Svyatogorsk in the northern part of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said during a media briefing. The move left Ukrainian military units, namely “remnants of the battalions of the 95th Airborne Assault Brigade and the 81st Separate Airborne Brigade” trapped in the town.
“Cut off from the main forces and supply lines due to the destruction of the bridge, [the troops] abandoned military equipment and their weaponry and scattered along the bank” of the Seversky Donets river, Konashenkov said.
Up to 80 Ukrainian servicemen crossed the river by swimming. Russian soldiers have knowingly not opened fire on them.
Konashenkov commended the retreat of the Ukrainian soldiers, stating it was the right thing to do and save their lives instead of“defending the useless Kiev regime.”
“We call on all military personnel and members of the territorial defense units of Ukraine to follow this example and stop thoughtless resistance in order to save their lives,” the official added.
Ukraine has, so far, not offered any comment on the developments in Svyatogorsk as claimed by the Russian military.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.