- The Washington Times - Friday, August 14, 2015

Ukraine’s state security agency has released a video purporting to show a captured Russian army officer appealing to President Vladimir Putin for help securing his release. 

The soldier in the video was identified by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) as Maj. Vladimir Starkov who was captured last month in eastern Ukraine

Maj. Starkov has admitted that he was serving in Russia’s armed forces at the time of his capture, Business Insider reported

The video fuels Ukraine’s suspicion that Russia is backing separatists in the eastern part of the country, an accusation Moscow has vehemently denied. 

The Kremlin has conceded, amid mounting evidence of Russian influence in Ukraine, that Russian citizens, including servicemen, have fought alongside the rebels but says they are volunteers operating outside official control. 

Moscow has also denied providing heavy weaponry that has been repeatedly spotted in the region to separatist forces. 

In the video published Aug. 13, the man, who does not identify himself, appeals directly to Mr. Putin, asking him to help set him free. 

“I’m not a combat officer. I am only a ‘paper,’ a clerical officer,” he says, Business Insider reported. 

“I served 19 years in the Russian army. And now they don’t acknowledge me. They’re saying there’s no one by that name. He didn’t serve. How could they do such a thing?” the man asks, speaking in Russian. 

Ukrainian state security chief Vasyl Hyrtsak on July 29 said Maj. Starkov has been charged with terrorism, but the man in the video denied that charge. 

“I’m not a terrorist. I didn’t come here to kill anyone. Before my detention, I didn’t put up any resistance because I knew that officially, we weren’t enemies,” he says in the video, Business Insider reported. 

“I request that someone acknowledges that I’m a [Russian] soldier and helps me somehow transfer out of here,” he adds. 

Following Ukraine’s announcement of Maj. Starkov’s detention, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated denials of Russian involvement in the conflict. 

More than 6,400 people have been killed in the conflict since fighting erupted in April 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory, the United Nations has said. 

 

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