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Russia's 'Secret War' in Ukraine Technically Legal

Published: September 2, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • Satellite imagery from NATO released on Aug. 28 purportedly shows Russian combat troops inside Ukraine.
    Photo: NATO

The secrecy shrouding a group of Russian paratroopers allegedly deployed to Ukraine has caused an outcry among the liberal media and immeasurable worry to troops' relatives — but it appears that Russian authorities are legally entitled to remain tight-lipped.

Not even in the case of "cargo 200" — as dead servicemen shipped home are referred to in Russia, based on the standard weight of a coffin — is the military under legal obligation to disclose the location or circumstances of soldiers' deaths.

Deploying servicemen to a war zone without warning or explanation does not constitute a violation of their rights either, soldiers' rights activists and veterans told The Moscow Times.

"You take your oath, and then you just go where they send you," Oleg Shvedkov, a retired submariner who heads of the All-Russian Servicemen Labor Union, said Monday.

In fact, the president is even entitled to send Russian troops abroad without parliamentary sanction, at least under domestic legislation, said Sergei Krivenko of the Citizen & Army NGO, who also is a member of the Kremlin's rights council.

Mysterious Paratroopers

Reports emerged last week that Russian reinforcements had saved the day for the embattled pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Official Kiev, NATO and the White House all spoke of what appeared to be a limited Russian deployment aiding the rebels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied it — as he did during the March annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Russian troops without insignia took control of the region at the time, but Putin only acknowledged their presence when the takeover was finished.

Soldiers' mothers, mad with worry, have swarmed their local military commissariats in recent days and petitioned Putin for explanations — so far to no avail.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Year’s Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Children’s Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Sweden’s cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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