ROSTOV-ON-DON, August 10 (RIA Novosti) - Five Ukrainian servicemen who had been arrested on suspicion of crimes against the civilian population in eastern Ukraine and then released, returned to Ukraine, a source at the Rostov Region police told RIA Novosti Sunday.
"Last night, five Ukrainian servicemen were given to Ukraine," the source said, adding that the transfer took place at the Chertkovo checkpoint.
A court in Russia’s Rostov region authorized on Friday the arrest of five Ukrainian servicemen, who had been detained on suspicion of crimes against the civilian population in eastern Ukraine.
On Saturday, Russia's Investigative Committee Spokesman Vladimir Markin announced the release of the servicemen, saying they were fulfilling the orders of their commander and had not committed direct humanitarian crimes.
The five commanding officers were all from Ukraine’s 72nd Guards Mechanized Brigade and included Commander of the First Battalion Ivan Voytenko, his deputy Major Vitaly Dubinyak, Tank Battalion Commander Alexander Polyakov, Executive Officer Alexander Orkhimenko and Squadron Commander Dmitry Ustilko.
They were earlier suspected of involvement in phosphorus bomb attacks against civilians in Donetsk Region and the shelling of the Russian territory.
Russia has documented multiple cases of war crimes in Ukraine since the start of the conflict in mid-April, when Kiev launched a military crackdown on independence supporters in eastern parts of the country. Fighting between the government forces and militia fighters has not stopped for months, even during an official ceasefire.
The conflict has claimed the lives of at least 1,367 people, according to the United Nations.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s "war against own people" and urged an immediate stop to the punitive operation, advocating a peaceful resolution to the crisis.