Russia admits conscripts fought in Ukraine, despite Putin’s previous denials

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The ministry admitted conscripts had been “discovered” in Ukraine but claimed they had already been withdrawn and returned to Russia.

“Unfortunately, several facts of the presence of conscripts in the units of the Russian armed forces involved in the conduct of a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine have been discovered,” said the spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, in a video message.

The day before, in a speech on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Putin had reassured the mothers and wives of soldiers that Russian conscripts would not participate in his invasion of Ukraine, which he described as a “special military operation”.

“I understand how worried you are for your loved ones…I insist that conscripts do not and will not participate in hostilities,” Putin said, Reuters reported. “And there will be no additional calls for reservists.”

The Russian president said only “professional military” were involved in the invasion. He also said on March 5 that there were no plans to enlist conscripts to fight in the war in Ukraine.

Konashenkov claimed on Wednesday that the Russian conscripts had been sent back to Russia. “Almost all of these servicemen have already been withdrawn to the territory of Russia,” he said.

But he added that some conscripts were captured by Ukrainian forces. “At the same time, a sabotage group from the national battalion attacked one of the units performing logistical support tasks. A number of servicemen, including conscripts, were captured,” Konashenkov said.

“At present, comprehensive measures are being taken to prevent the deployment of conscripts to combat areas and the release of captured servicemen,” he said.

According to audio recordings of calls made to a Ukrainian government-run hotline, which were shared exclusively with CNN, many Russian soldiers appeared to be unsure of what the plans were for them, or why they were deployed.

The recordings reinforce reports that Russian soldiers were denied communication with their families.


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