Russia monitors the conflict zone in Ukraine with the help of advanced drones, according to Ukrainian forces who have recently shot down Russian aircraft.
The Security Service of Ukraine believes that it has one more evidence of Russia’s presence in Ukraine.
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The drone has the word “Forpost” stamped in Russian and is an Israeli Searcher II drone made from Israeli components at a Russian manufacturing factory. Russia’s factory “Oboronpron” and Israel signed a contract on manufacturing drones in 2010.
The factory’s 2011 report said that within 3 years it should have supplied the Ministry of Defense with 10 sets of drones, each set having three drones. The price of the contract was as high as 9 million rubles ($180,300).
In August 2014, the Israeli media reported that their Ministry of Defense suggested the country’s drone manufacturers to end the cooperation with Russia. Russia then claimed that the contract was terminated and there were no plans of future cooperation.
The army of Israel was armed with Searcher II drones in 1998.
Furthermore, the same drone was found by Ukraine’s forces earlier this month. The drone was shot down not far from Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, on 8 May. A fighting that lasted for two days obstructed the Ukrainian forces to get the wreckage.
“We knew we had hit something important by the way they were fighting to try to stop us from getting to it,” said Natan Chazin, the commander of the Ukrainian unit that had found the drone.
When the military reached the drone, they found four compasses and a triple backup navigation system to make it immune to electronic jamming and able to return home unless shot down.
It was reported that neither Ukrainian forces nor the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) used any similar drones.
Russian special forces troops captured in Ukraine
Meanwhile, Ukraine has recently captured two men it says are Russian special forces troops, and presents it as yet another evidence of Russia’s involvement in the one-year old conflict. Russia has repeatedly denied being a part of it.
Russian special forces troops Alexander Alexandrov and Evgeniy Erofeev, captured by Ukraine’s military near Schastie in eastern Ukraine, complained that they had not been visited by the Russian embassy.
“I would like to see at least any of their [Russia’s] representative. The consulate or embassy. Everybody was here but them. It doesn’t matter if they deny my existence as a military, I’m still their citizen after all. For now…” Erofeev said in an interview with “Novaya Gazeta.”
Alexandrov said that he would like to see representatives of the Russian embassy to come and pay him a visit.
The two military were captured on May 16 and were both injured. Captain Evgeniy Erofeev and Sergeant Alexander Alexandrov admitted they serve in Russia’s special forces third unit located in Tolyatti.
Right after the incident, pro-Russian rebels claimed that the ‘special forces troops’ are the members of their people’s militia. Russia confirmed the two men are its citizens three days after the capture, on May 18. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the two men were “former military” and demanded Ukraine to release them.
The Security Service of Ukraine does not plan exchanging the two men.
Earlier, the two Russians were visited by OSCE, Amnesty International and International Committee of the Red Cross. According to Amnesty International, the two men were satisfied with the conditions they were held in, while the OSCE report said that one of them admitted that he was ordered to be sent to Ukraine.
Both Alexander Alexandrov and Evgeniy Erofeev said that they did not quit the service in Russia’s military.
Russia wages “a real war” against Ukraine
He told the BBC’s Fergal Keane: “Can I be absolutely clear with you this is not a fight with Russian-backed separatists, this is a real war with Russia.”
He added that “the fact that we captured… Russian regular special forces soldiers [is] strong evidence of that.”
Poroshenko also said that he is waiting for a military offensive from pro-Russian rebels’ side in eastern Ukraine as early as this summer.
When asked whether he fears this kind of scenario or not, he said, “I do not fear anything. I believe they are preparing an offensive and I think we should be ready and I think that we do not give them any tiny chance for provocation. That will totally be their responsibility.”
Pro-Russian rebels have repeatedly accused Poroshenko of preparing offensives on their ‘people’s republics’.
Poroshenko also said that he did not trust his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Despite this fact, he believes that Ukraine had no option but to have faith in diplomacy.
However, in order to regain control over Donbass, there’s “no other option” but to hold peace talks with Russia. “I don’t think we can regain our territory through military means,” he said.
Pro-Russian rebels have recently made significant gains in eastern Ukraine, including, the rail hub of Debaltseve. The rebels as well as Russia, have repeatedly denied the fact that Russia fuels the conflict.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, in turn, answered to the Ukrainian president’s comments saying that Ukraine was the one shelling its citizens, and that “the matter should be discussed today.”