Members of the armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic drive a tank on the outskirts of Donetsk, Ukraine, in this January 22, 2015 file photo. Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko/Files

Reuters: Special Report: Russian soldiers quit over Ukraine

Some Russian soldiers are quitting the army because of the conflict in Ukraine, several soldiers and human rights activists have told Reuters. Their accounts call into question the Kremlin's continued assertions that no Russian soldiers have been sent to Ukraine, and that any Russians fighting alongside rebels there are volunteers.

Evidence for Russians fighting in Ukraine – Russian army equipment found in the country, testimony from soldiers' families and from Ukrainians who say they were captured by Russian paratroopers – is abundant. Associates of Boris Nemtsov, a prominent Kremlin critic killed in February, will soon publish a report which they say will contain new evidence of the Russian military presence in Ukraine.

Update: Russian soldiers quit over forced Ukraine fighting, report claims -- The Independent

WNU Editor: Unless you have a deferment (which is now actually very common) .... service in the Russian military is mandatory. The punishment for desertion from the Russian military is very severe .... which is why I am surprised that these men are not in jail .... and it makes me wonder on the reliability of this story. In addition .... there are more than enough professional Russian soldiers and reservists who want to volunteer to join the fight in Ukraine .... so why send in the conscripts? I personally do not know anyone who has gone to fight in Ukraine .... but I do have many friends who have said to me that they know someone who has gone to fight in eastern Ukraine .... but these men  volunteered to go, and were given leave from work to do so. I also know that my cousins and my friends are telling their kids that when it is their time to serve in the military .... to not sign any contract regardless of the pressure that may be put on them.... because it may entail doing something they may regret later on. I completely understand this sentiment .... they are worried on what is happening in Ukraine .... and they certainly do not want their kids to go there .... even though the Kremlin is stating that they will not. As to what is my own personal take on the situation .... I have always believed that Russian intelligence operatives and special forces are in the field in eastern Ukraine .... but not in the numbers that Ukraine likes to portray. When I watch videos from the war I am always alert on the accent of the Russian that is spoken. Just like U.S. English .... a black from Harlan will have a different accent from someone who has lived in Alabama all his life .... the same can be said about Russian. From what I have heard and seen .... the mass majority of the rebel fighters speak the local Russian dialect with a spattering of Chechen/Muscovite/ Russian .... the Muscovite accent I can always pick up. The senior commanders .... no question on that .... they are all Russian Ukrainians. Individual soldiers .... like a said .... majority Ukrainian .... but there are some "volunteers" from elsewhere. Another good metric that can be used in determining the number of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine comes from the prisoners that the Ukraine army has captured. Aside from a Russian paratrooper platoon that was caught last year .... the Ukraine government has captured hundreds of rebel fighters (if not thousands) .... but no Russian soldiers to showcase.

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