A Russian citizen named Vladimir Starkov, who was arrested by Ukrainian border guards at Berezove checkpoint (Donetsk region) on July, 26 when convoyed ammunition to the separatist ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’, has confessed to being a member of the Russian Armed Forces, Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Chief Vasyl Hrytsak said.
“Immediately after the arrest, Starkov confessed that he is a Russian citizen, and serves as a regular in the Russian Armed Forces,” Hrytsak said at a briefing in Kyiv on Wednesday.
Chief of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Viktor Nazarenko reported that Starkov was born in 1978 and lives in Khabarovsk Krai.
He added that a Ukrainian citizen, Ruslan Iotko, who was born 1967, was arrested along with Starkov.
Hrytsak said that after Starkov was detained, Russian military command staff instructed separatist militants to capture Ukrainian military personnel to be used as bargaining chips.
“According to preliminary information, after border guards captured Starkov, Russian commanders ordered the leaders of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ terrorist organizations to do their best to capture Ukrainian military personnel as prisoners for a swap, at any cost, to take revenge…I don’t know what things they were guided when giving such an order,” Hrytsak said.
He also reported that the Ukrainian government has attempted to communicate with Starkov’s family, but in vain. There was an attempt to bribe Ukrainian border guards to release Starkov immediately after his arrest, the SBU chief added.