Lithuanians and Poles fighting in eastern Ukraine, claims Russia FM

  • 2014-09-29
  • From wire reports, VILNIUS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (photo: EPA)

Lithuanian and Polish citizens are fighting for pro Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine, Russia's foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed.

The foreign minister said European and U.S. fighters were fighting on both sides of the conflict that has killed over 3,000 people. 

Ukraine has recorded it's worst shelling in the last week amid a ceasefire after three people died in rebel held Donetsk today, media reports show.  

"There are many volunteers there, many Russians. There was one American who was shown on TV yesterday. He was interviewed but he was wearing a balaclava," Lavrov told Bloomberg TV, quoted by ITAR TASS news agency.

"There are some Russians, Russian citizens fighting on the side of, not the Ukrainian army, but those battalions which (Ukrainian) oligarchs created and keep financing. There are many Poles, Lithuanians, many Europeans are fighting there on the side of those battalions. But some are fighting on the side of the rebels.

"At least, there were interviews with some Spanish guys, a German lady by the ways who’s fighting; and an American was shown yesterday,” the Russian foreign minister went on to say."

Lavrov, however, said Russia had never denied that Russian volunteers were fighting for pro Russia rebels.

"We never denied there are Russian volunteers fighting there. And there was one episode when a Russian army unit on an armored personnel carrier got into Ukrainian territory. But there were so many cases when it was the other way round when Ukrainian armored personnel carriers got deep into the Russian territory. And in all these cases, they said they had got there by mistake and they were all released,” Lavrov said.

“You know, if you just start concentrating on manifestations of the problem: who’s fighting; what country is sending assistance to whom, we can discuss (things) forever. The main thing is to start a national dialog." Lavrov said. 

Lithuania has long accused Russia of backing pro Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine, a claim the latter has repeatedly denied.

Officials in Lithuania have voiced strong condemnation of the violence in eastern Ukraine. Injured Ukrainian soldiers have been treated in local hospital whilst Vilnius has sent aid to the country amid the crisis.