A social-media photo of Maksim Odintsov, one of two soldiers arrested near Crimea by Ukrainian authorities, who accuse them of being military deserters.
Ukrainian authorities have released a video showing what they say was the detention of two military deserters who had defected to Russia, escalating a standoff between Kyiv and Moscow over the fate of the two men.
Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) chief Vasyl Hrytsak showed the video at a November 22 briefing in Kyiv, in an apparent bid to bolster Ukraine’s claim that the men were apprehended after crossing into mainland Ukraine at a checkpoint near the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula.
They are accused of being deserters who defected to Russia from the Ukrainian army after Crimea was seized by Russian forces in March 2014.
Russia’s Defense Ministry a day earlier accused the SBU of kidnapping the men in Crimea on November 20 and bringing them back to Ukraine. Speaking in Minsk on November 22, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the detentions an “illegitimate provocation.”
“The detentions were essentially carried out at the Chonhar checkpoint,” Hrytsak told reporters, referring to the crossing in Ukraine’s Kherson region just north of Crimea.
The video, which the SBU also posted on YouTube, showed the alleged detentions taking place on a bridge between two flagpoles — one flying the Ukrainian flag, the other flying Russia’s — as the two men scrambled to get back to the Russian-controlled side.
The Russian Defense Ministry identified the two detainees as Russian servicemen Maksim Odintsov and Aleksandr Baranov.