GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday it had visited two men captured in a part of eastern Ukraine hit by separatist conflict and that they were now in hospital in the capital Kiev.
Ukraine on Monday showed a video online of two prisoners it said were Russian soldiers who had killed Ukrainian soldiers in fighting in its east and said they would be prosecuted for “terrorist acts”. Russia denies active military backing for pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine.
“A team from the ICRC which included a doctor has this afternoon visited the two men captured near Shchastya in the Lugansk region on 17th May and then transferred to Kiev,” ICRC spokeswoman Jennifer Tobias told Reuters. “The aim of the visit was to assess their condition and help them establish and maintain contact with their families.”
She declined to comment on the men’s identity or status, adding: “We want to see everyone detained in connection with the conflict.”
The Ukrainians have seized on the capture of the two men they identified as Russians, both wounded, to support their accusations of direct Russian involvement in the conflict despite a ceasefire signed in February.
Victoria Nuland, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, speaking in Moscow on Monday, welcomed the Kiev government’s public statements that the men were being well taken care of and that the ICRC would be allowed access to them.
Over 6,100 people have been killed and Russia’s relations with the West plunged into crisis since pro-Moscow separatists rebelled against a pro-Western leadership when it took power in Ukraine more than a year ago. Russia accuses Kiev of violating the truce.
The ICRC, an independent aid agency, has provided food and other relief supplies to civilians in eastern Ukraine and voiced its readiness to help clear unexploded ordnance and trace people missing in the conflict.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich