ST. PETERSBURG, August 6 (RIA Novosti) – Foreign mercenaries fighting independence forces in eastern Ukraine are bringing their own weapons and hardware to the battlefield, a member of the local militia told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
“Western mercenaries don’t even try to hide [their presence] anymore. For instance, I know that Poles are now fighting against the militia. They bring their own hardware and crews into battle – tanks and warplanes,” Vladimir Stepanov, an assistant commander of a militia battalion in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said.
“Kiev is being supplied with military equipment coming from Eastern Europe, allowing them to send wave after wave of armored vehicles after us, despite our having destroyed lots of hardware,” Stepanov added.
Stepanov said Ukrainian troops have been using Grad multiple rocket launchers against the militia.
“Their strategy is: dig in, pounder an area where their drones spotted self-defense forces with Grads and howitzers and then send in Right Sector [troops] to do the cleanup. But by that time we have moved out,” he explained.
He added that government troops were only beginning to learn their way around imported weaponry, including cluster and phosphorus bombs.
“The Ukrainian Army and its supporters are using militia as a training dummy to prepare for the future invasion into Crimea. The hardware they use against us will be used in Crimea. All signs point there,” Stepanov claimed.
Russia has long been calling on Sweden, Finland, the Baltic states and France to look into the alleged involvement of their nationals in hostilities in eastern Ukraine following an article in Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper.
German newspapers Bild am Sonntag and Der Spiegel earlier reported that some 400 elite commandos from the notorious military firm Academi, previously known as Blackwater, were taking part in Kiev's "anti-terror" operation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as early as May that Moscow believes information that Western, primarily American, mercenaries are operating in Ukraine may be true.